“Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

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Federal Government appalled at rising ‘examples of discrimination against Muslim Australians’ contained in a report released by the Charles Sturt University

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 November: The Federal Government has slammed the incidents of Islamophobia in Australia, calling them ‘completely unacceptable’. A media statement today from The Hon David Coleman MP Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs refers to the report (Islamophobia in Australia-2- 2016-2017) released by the Charles Sturt University today.

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

- The second Islamophobia in Australia report cites 349 incidents reported in 24 months (2016-17)
- This and previous reports indicate only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide
- Islamophobia is not just a problem for Muslims but requires national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion

The 2019 Islamophobia in Australia report suggests that hate incidents are not just a problem for Muslims, but will need national engagement if Australia is to maintain social cohesion and live up to its multicultural legacy.

The report, which was led by chief investigator Dr. Derya Iner from Charles Sturt University’s Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation, offers a multi-faceted analysis of verified incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia by victims, proxies, and witnesses in the two-year period of 2016-17.

A news report on the CSU website says, “The report shows predominantly Muslim women and girls are being targeted with verbal abuse, profanities, physical intimidation and death threats in public places, most often while shopping, and most often by Anglo-Celtic male perpetrators.

Insults targeting Muslims’ religious appearance and religion was the highest in both reports online and offline, with almost all women respondents (96 percent) targeted while wearing hijab.”

It adds, “The situation for Muslim children was particularly concerning and underscores the need for prevention strategies in schools.

The report shows that experiences of Islamophobic abuse start for children in pre-school years when they were accompanied by their identifiably Muslim parents.”

Intensity of hate rhetoric

The report shows the alarming intensity of hate rhetoric that groomed the Christchurch terrorist who carried out terrorist attacks in New Zealand earlier this year, as active in Australia three to five years ago.

Online and offline, people have detailed how they would like to murder all Muslims and yet there appeared to be no investigation or prosecution, raising serious questions about the fitness of existing laws.

Following the previous report’s trend, the most severe level of hate, wanting to kill and/or harm Muslims, was the most dominant rhetoric, consisting of one-quarter of the entire online cases.

Online, there were dynamics of contagion at play with online communities reacting to the perpetrator’s posts with supportive emojis, comments, and shares.

Sadly, the intensity of hate rhetoric was also present in physical cases, with 11 percent of the 202 offline cases including death threats.

The fact some Australian Muslims could not go about their ordinary life without receiving a death threat from a stranger opens serious questions about how Muslim identity has been publicly crafted.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Dr. Iner noted that the number of incidents discloses only the ‘tip of an iceberg’, as under-reporting of hate crimes and related incidents is an ongoing problem worldwide.

“This is especially the case where continuous anti-Muslim sentiment in political and media discourse becomes normalized, desensitizing the public,” she said.

“With Christchurch in our minds, we cannot afford to be complacent.

“Social cohesion is something that must be nurtured and repaired by all of us for the well-being and security of Australia.”

The Hon David Coleman MP says, “Freedom of religion is fundamental to Australian society. Australians of all religions should be able to practice their faith free of prejudice. The instances of discrimination against Australians of Islamic faith which are documented in the report are completely unacceptable.

The Morrison Government has no tolerance for racial or cultural prejudice against any group. In this year’s Budget, the Government invested $71 million into a package of measures designed to strengthen our social cohesion.

The behavior outlined in the report is condemned in the strongest terms – Australia as a nation utterly rejects racism and religious discrimination of any kind.”

Dr. Sharif As-Saber, Associate Professor at RMIT University and a Member of the Victorian South Asian Communities Ministerial Advisory Council says,” Unfortunately, Australia is not immune from various forms of discriminations, abuses and vilifications. Religious and racial discriminations including hate crimes are just a few of them. It is better to acknowledge the reality while there should be concerted efforts by the governments and various community groups and religious leaders to combat and mitigate such problems. In other words, ‘engagement’ is important!”

The Islamophobia Register Australia is launching a crowdfunding campaign as it relies on community funds to maintain its independence. The next report will include data from before and after the Christchurch tragedy.

Copies of the report are available at www.islamophobia.com.au.

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