Australia: Politicians and media let us down in fight to curb rising Islamophobia

Many incidents of violence and harassment directed at Australian Muslims have been reported recently. These are visible confirmation of fears expressed by their community, that support for the government’s new security laws and military action in Iraq would be rallied with “racist caricatures of Muslims as backwards, prone to violence and inherently problematic”.

Policing and intelligence operations have focused exclusively on members of the Muslim community. This has contributed to a public backlash against Muslims and supposed Muslims. The immediacy and scale of this outbreak of Islamophobia is alarming.

Stereotypes do terrible damage

Australia has emerged as a fertile environment for Islamophobia. Stereotypical representations of Muslims in the early years of the “War on Terror” – which linked terrorism, violence and Islam – gained wide currency by the mid-2000s…

(Photo: Those Australians who are openly hostile to Muslims and their institutions feel emboldened by anti-Islamic rhetoric in public discourse. AAP/Tertius Pickard)