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Arab Leader Laments Australia's Addiction to Gambling

20 February 2001

MELBOURNE, Australia – As reported by The "Every Sunday Father Mina Rizkalla takes to the pulpit of his Oakleigh church and tells his 200member congregation that gambling is tearing Melbourne's Arabic community apart.

"Father Mina says his people are suffering a moral decline in their new home.

"…[He says] `These casinos are destroying our people. Melbourne should be one of the best places in the world with everything it has. But this is taking our people's minds away.'

"Father Mina's impassioned antigambling sermons have angered some in the Arabic speaking community, who feel the problem should not be revealed. By speaking out, he is breaking a tradition of keeping the church and community closed.

"…Father Mina has seen too many gamblers hurt not only themselves but also their families.

"…A Victorian Casino and Gambling Authority report on the effects of gambling on ethnic groups reveals that Arabic-speaking people are five times more likely to suffer gambling problems than the general community.

"…Gambling is largely taboo in Egypt, as in most Arab countries. It is either forbidden to Muslims, or strongly discouraged, to Christians. The few casinos are accessible only to tourists and the very rich…"

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