Investigation Journal: Islamaphobia in Australia

In the past month, Australia’s terrorist alert level has been raised to high. This means it is very likely an attack will occur, however authorities say they don’t have any “specific” information regarding plot or target. Although Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that the Government has “no specific intelligence’ of a plot for a potential terrorist attack, police presence, raids on potential terrorist activity and instances of islamaphobia have increased around Australia. Here, I will investigate instances of islamaphobia in the media and analyse how this is affecting both the Australian and Islamic community.

Article 1: Muslim Hate Social Experiment
Macquarie University, 2014, Muslim Hate Social Experiment, online video, 3 October, Macquarie University, Muslim students Association for Islamic Awareness Week 2014 ‘iSlamPhobia’, viewed 5 October 2014, http://muslimvillage.com/2014/10/04/58413/video-muslim-hate-in-australia-social-experiment/

This staged social experiment highlights how, although a large population of Australians are islamaphobic, when confronted with actual instances of racism, many stand up against these vicious attacks. This is a side we don’t often see within the media or political stage as it seems the government, media or bigoted individual prefer to generalize and assume a ‘blanket’ understanding of the Muslim religion. Although this social experiment does not diminish increases in racist activity, it does fulfill the criteria of the Macquarie University ‘iSlamPhobia’ week, which includes creating awareness of this issue and proving how targeted some Muslims are.

Article 2: Islamaphobia: Tony Abbott urged to speak out against attacks on Muslims
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Milman, O 2014, ‘Islamaphobia: Tony Abbott urged to speak out against attacks on Muslims’, The Guardian, 23 September, viewed 7 October, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/23/islamophobia-tony-abbott-urged-to-speak-out-against-attacks-on-muslims
Post anti-terrorism raids, Tony Abbott has been urged to speak out against Islamaphobia in Australia, despite his change in policies being one of the contributing factors. Milman references Palmer United party senator Jacqui Lambi and her references to sharia law were “maniacs and depraved humans” would use horrific techniques to make Australian women were a burqa. This article highlights how a blanket assumption about Muslims has been made not just in the context of the Australian media, but also with persons of interest in the political field. There is a great risk with people of political influence coming out against Muslims, that the Australian population will blindly follow suit.

Article 3: Terror raid family takes legal action
Olding, R 2014, ‘Terror raid family takes legal action’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October, viewed 7 October, p. 5

ARTICLE12
This article provides a specific example of the repercussions behind police targeting and counter-terrorism raids. It’s no surprise the family is seeking legal action as a result to the horrific and unprecedented way they were treated during these raids. Although this article is incredibly important in naming and shaming the NSW police, the very fact it was published on page 5 and at the bottom of the page is testament to how important this issue is to the Australian public. These instances of islamaphobia, where innocent Muslims children are “scared to return to school” is a detrimental problem within the Australian society, especially when a ‘fair go’ is what Australia is stereotypically known for.

Article 4: Mehreen Faruqi: Muslim women don’t need glass cages- or glass ceilings
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Faruqi, M 2014, ‘Muslim women don’t need glass cages- or glass ceilings’, Crikey, 3 October, viewed 7 October, http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/10/03/mehreen-faruqi-muslim-women-dont-need-glass-cages-or-glass-ceilings/
This article address problems the government should be focusing on, rather than debating whether or not women should be permitted to wear items of clothing which have correlation to their religion. Most commonly the Burqa is seen as a sign of repression and anti-feminist actions however, this movement against the Burqa is not only giving a voice to inequality within the Australian community, but also targeting women on the basis of their dress, something that can also be considered anti-feminist. The all-too-common idea that women who wear a Burqa are being oppressed, it’s ironic for a women’s attire to be considered on the political agenda rather than actual issues such as discrepancies in pay and inequality in decision-making.

Article 5: Muslims should not feel targeted by Governments counterterrorism laws, academic says
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Metherell, L 2014, ‘Muslims should not feel targeted by Governments counterterrorism laws, academic says’, ABC news, 29 August, viewed 5 October, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-09/muslims-should-not-feel-targeted-by-security-laws-academic/5660046
This article provides a somewhat objective overview with regards to how Muslims should not feel targeted or victims of islamaphobia because the issue of counterterrorism is a problem for everybody. However overwhelming evidence for increased instances of islamaphobia debunk the point of this article. To date it seems the government has only mentioned Islamic terrorists, no mention of ‘home-grown’ Australian citizens who pose a different threat. Yes the article is right to say that these laws shouldn’t target this particular minority, however the article remiss’ to mention how the people mostly affected will be the Muslim community.

Article 6: ‘I was so scared’: Helping hand for fearful young Muslim girls
Visentin, L 2014, ‘I was so scared’: helping hand for fearful young Muslim girls’, Weekend Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October, viewed 12 October, p.11

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Yet another first hand account of Islamaphobia in the media, however reported on in a minor and offhand way. This article, published on page 11, with even less importance to last weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald highlights how the Burqa debate has forced young women to not only fear scrutiny but also has allowed them to band together against this racism. As racist Australians and fearful Muslims band together in their respective groups there is a massive risk a gap in acceptance will come about and become a cultural norm within Australia. This dissonance between cultures is perhaps even more of a threat than far-away terrorism itself.

Article 7: The Burqa debate: lifting the veil on Islamaphobia in Australia
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Ismail, R 2014, ‘The Burqa debate: lifting the veil on Islamaphobia in Australia’, The Age, 1 October, viewed 5 October, http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-burqa-debate-lifting-the-veil-on-islamophobia-in-australia-20140930-10nvl1.html
Touching on how problematic islamaphobia is, Ismail quotes “This is the real and ultimate manifestation of islamaphobia. It is practiced by a small group of Australians no more representative of Australia than ISIS sympathisers are of Muslims”. The article covers both benefits and limitations to banning the Burqa in an objective manner, critical to journalistic work covering particularly sensitive issues. It seems Islamaphobia covers all basis when it comes to the Islamic community, from clothing to prayer times, nothing is off the cards for the Australian public to assume or say.

Article 8: Muslims call for stricter hate crime laws to go with national security powers
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Chan, G 2014, ‘Muslims call for stricter hate crime laws to go with national security powers’, The Guardian, 5 October, viewed 7 October, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/05/muslims-call-stricter-hate-crime-laws
It’s only fair for Australia to employ stricter hate crimes to protect the Muslim community, especially with numerous counts of racism and hate towards these people. Potential human rights infringements and violations are something that needs to be considered as a repercussion to this amendment in attitude. It seems in an attempt to protect the Australian population from the “high threat of terrorism”, the government has annulled to protect minority religious and cultural groups, therefore potentially leading to a cycle where Muslims feel marginalized and threatened by the community they begin to believe the information they’re being fed.

Article 9: Real Time with Bill Maher: Ben Affleck, Sam Harris and Bill Maher Debate Radical Islam
RealTime, 2014, Real Time with Bill Maher: Ben Affleck, Sam Harris and Bill Maher Debate Radical Islam, online video, 6 October, RealTime, viewed 7 October, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vln9D81eO60

In defending Muslims in an angry debate on HBO’s ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’, Ben Affleck has raised the bar in terms of calling out Islamaphobic behavior and downright racism. Through raising awareness that Islamaphobia is cultural stereotyping, Afflect has exposed a fundamental truth behind what isn’t being said in the media- that there are more than a billion Muslims who aren’t fanatical. Through creating this blanket view of Muslims, the media has simplified the issue to the extent that the facts are ignored and the issue is black and white, or Muslim vs. Australian.

Article 10: Islamaphobia: Australia’s Newest National Sport
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McQuire, A 2014, ‘Islamaphobia: Australia’s Newest National Sport’, New Matilda, 23 September, viewed 7 October, https://newmatilda.com/2014/09/23/islamophobia-australias-newest-national-sport
This article seeks to provide an alternative viewpoint to the blanket coverage and homogenous opinions the mainstream media provides with regards to ISIS. It describes how the stories are “sexed up” and “sensationalized” with the real threat and problem being Islamaphobia within Australia’s borders. This article seeks to debunk the legitimacy of the threats by revealing how openly bigotry the vast majority of the Australian population has become. Although it’s important to realize how this article, too, may homogenize the Australian population as racists, it provides a valid point with regards to the openly anti-sematic remarks the Australian Muslim population is facing.

 

 

Bibliography

Chan, G 2014, ‘Muslims call for stricter hate crime laws to go with national security powers’, The Guardian, 5 October, viewed 7 October, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/05/muslims-call-stricter-hate-crime-laws

Faruqi, M 2014, ‘Muslim women don’t need glass cages- or glass ceilings’, Crikey, 3 October, viewed 7 October, http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/10/03/mehreen-faruqi-muslim-women-dont-need-glass-cages-or-glass-ceilings/

Macquarie University, 2014, Muslim Hate Social Experiment, online video, 3 October, Macquarie University, Muslim students Association for Islamic Awareness Week 2014 ‘iSlamPhobia’, viewed 5 October 2014, http://muslimvillage.com/2014/10/04/58413/video-muslim-hate-in-australia-social-experiment/

McQuire, A 2014, ‘Islamaphobia: Australia’s Newest National Sport’, New Matilda, 23 September, viewed 7 October, https://newmatilda.com/2014/09/23/islamophobia-australias-newest-national-sport

Metherell, L 2014, ‘Muslims should not feel targeted by Governments counterterrorism laws, academic says’, ABC news, 29 August, viewed 5 October, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-09/muslims-should-not-feel-targeted-by-security-laws-academic/5660046

Milman, O 2014, ‘Islamaphobia: Tony Abbott urged to speak out against attacks on Muslims’, The Guardian, 23 September, viewed 7 October, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/23/islamophobia-tony-abbott-urged-to-speak-out-against-attacks-on-muslims

Ismail, R 2014, ‘The Burqa debate: lifting the veil on Islamaphobia in Australia’, The Age, 1 October, viewed 5 October, http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-burqa-debate-lifting-the-veil-on-islamophobia-in-australia-20140930-10nvl1.html

Olding, R 2014, ‘Terror raid family takes legal action’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October, viewed 7 October, p. 5

RealTime, 2014, Real Time with Bill Maher: Ben Affleck, Sam Harris and Bill Maher Debate Radical Islam, online video, 6 October, RealTime, viewed 7 October, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vln9D81eO60

Visentin, L 2014, ‘I was so scared’: helping hand for fearful young Muslim girls’, Weekend Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October, viewed 12 October, p.11