A Muslim cleric who reportedly said men have a right to force their wives to have sex and to hit them if they are disobedient has been condemned by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
"Under no circumstances is sexual violence permissible or acceptable in Australia," Rudd said after a newspaper reported cleric Samir Abu Hamza's comments in a sermon posted on the Internet.
"I would call upon this Islamic cleric to publicly apologise and repudiate his remarks."
The cleric said in his sermon, entitled "The keys to a successful marriage," that it was a man's right to demand sex from his wife whenever he felt like it, the Daily Telegraph reported.
"If the husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing the bread on the stove, she must leave it and come and respond to her husband, she must respond," Hamza was quoted as saying.
He reportedly scorned Australian laws which make it an offence for a man to force his wife to have sex, saying: "Amazing, how can a person rape his wife?"
Hamza also said Islamic law allowed men to hit their wives as a last resort but they should not bruise them or make them bleed, the paper reported.
Rudd said Australians would not accept any forms of violence against women, adding: "Nor are they acceptable in my view to mainstream Muslim teachings."
The Daily Telegraph said Hamza stood by his sermon, which was delivered in 2003 and posted on the Internet late last year.
However, Hamza said his remarks had been taken out of context, Islamic Council of Victoria state president Ramzi Elsayed told the national AAP news agency.
Islam did not condone violence against women or making a wife have sex with her husband against her will, Elsayed said.
At Hamza's Islamic Information and Service Network of Australasia in Melbourne a staff member said the cleric was on holiday for the next "couple of weeks".
A leading Islamic cleric, Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali, was replaced as Mufti of Australia in 2007 after creating a storm of protest when he described scantily-dressed women as "uncovered meat" inviting rape.