Australia: Islamophobia feeds on our fear of an evil within

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Shock jocks paint places like Lakemba as hotbeds of jihadism, in which zealots concoct plans to behead and bomb us in their prayer rooms and bookshops.

Although no one in Australia has yet been killed by a Muslim terrorist, we are in the midst of an intense moral panic about Islam – a moment of incandescent media coverage and hyperbolic public debate, in which we lose all sense of proportion, demonise young men with long beards (hipsters beware!), and sign away basic freedoms in the cause of counter-terrorism. In this climate of absolutism, Labor and moderate Muslim spokespeople clamour to support the government because they don’t want appear as soft on the enemy.

This is all based the sense that evil lurks within and must be tracked, identified, interrogated and brought to book. There is nothing new in this. We locked up Australians of German and Italian background in World War II despite their pledges of loyalty to their adopted land. And it was not just Australian communists who were demonised in the paranoia of the Cold War…

Nonsense. Caution over enemies is common sense. During WW I, some people of German descent favoured the Germans. But that is behind us now — it was a senseless war over nothing. This is not true of Islam — they are a whole different civilization that utterly alien to us. The West has been fighting them on and off for 1400 years.

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