Why is police victim’s religion such a secret?

A friend sent along a story to me about a religious row that ended in death. He wondered what religion was involved. Here’s the first story I read, from ABC News (Australia), which begins:

A inquest into the death of a man shot last year by police in Castle Hill, in Sydney’s north-west, has heard he was provoked by two men who had insulted his religion.

The Coroner Hugh Dillon said Rodney Elkass was not a gangster or trouble maker, but in the year 2000 he punched a colleague who insulted his religion.

Nowhere in the story do we learn what the deceased man’s religion was. This Herald Sun story is similar:

A RELIGIOUS taunt between workmates more than ten years ago triggered a tragic series of events which ended in police shooting dead a “decent citizen” on a suburban street, an inquest heard this morning.

You can read to the end of that story and not have any idea what religion(s) are involved. At this point, I began wondering if it was some kind of deliberate state secret. This Daily Telegraph story included this at the end of a report:

The street stand-off was triggered when Mr El Kass pulled a loaded Glock 17 pistol on a former workmate after a chance meeting in the shopping centre car park.

The pair had clashed 11 years earlier when the man, known as “Witness A”, sent him a religious slur via a text message.

Good to know. Can we get any details at all about this religious slur?

I began digging around to see if I could find anything out. I found this October 2, 2011 story in the days after the tragic death:

As Mr Elkass was buried after a service at Lakemba mosque yesterday, more details started to emerge of the shooting, which has shocked and angered his family.

The brother of the deceased is also a cop, which makes the story all the more interesting and sad. Anyway, so the funeral was at a mosque. And an accompanying picture to the story linked above shows female mourners who are dressed in modest Muslim attire. So I guess we have our answer. I did end up finding one current story that answers the question, too. Again the Herald Sun:

Rodney Elkass, 37, was shot dead by police in September last year after being told to put down a Glock pistol he had with him in his car.

Earlier, the painter and handyman had pulled the loaded gun on the former colleague – known as “Witness A” – after a chance meeting between them in the Castle Towers shopping centre carpark.

In 2000, Witness A had been left with two black eyes after a fight between them when he made some “derogatory” and “quite offensive” cracks about Mr Elkass’ Islamic faith, the inquest heard.

It just seems like a no-brainer to include which religion the deceased was a member of, when taunts against that religion were a key aspect of the decade-long conflict that led to the death. Oh, and if you want to know more about the slur, there are details here.


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