Australia: parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism finds widespread prejudice against Muslims

The head of a federal inquiry into multiculturalism hopes to push back against the notion that all Muslims in Australia want to impose Sharia law.

Labor’s Maria Vamvakinou describes this as a myth and a “fault line” in the community, along with the perception that Muslims do not want to integrate with mainstream Australia. She also wants migrants to be described by their ethnic origin as opposed to faith, to overcome the trend of grouping all migrants from Afghanistan or Iraq as Muslims.

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has uncovered wide-spread prejudice against Muslims in its inquiry into multiculturalism.

It is to report to parliament within weeks and comes after the row over the proposed Gungahlin mosque. Ms Vamvakinou said many of the 500 submissions were against Muslims. “They range from saying multiculturalism works, down to saying Islam is a problem,” she told The Canberra Times. “We have identified that it is a perception about Muslim Australians.

“At the final public hearing, we had people saying Islam is a problem and there is a Muslim conspiracy to take over the country and impose Sharia law. The fault line here was the perception that Muslim community can’t and does not want to integrate … a lot of the submissions say that.”

Canberra Times, 20 August 2012