Australian media accused of Islamaphobia

British firebrand Yvonne Ridley has accused Australia’s media of being hostile towards Muslims, as Labor demanded to know why the Islamic convert was allowed into the country.

The former investigative reporter, in Melbourne for a major religious conference, was quoted in news reports saying Australians were among the world’s worst Muslim haters. But Ms Ridley said her comments were wrongly recorded and she had no problem with the Australian people – only the Australian media, which she accused of Islamophobia.

“The time has come to change the media attitudes towards Muslims in this country,” she told the annual Australian Islamic Conference at the University of Melbourne, staged by non-profit Muslim group, Mercy Mission. “What I actually said to the journalist was there is a horrendous problem of Islamophobia in Australia – it isn’t the ordinary citizens, it’s the media.”

“It’s very, very sad the way the media has reacted,” she said. “Suddenly I’m no more a British journalist, I’m a firebrand Islamic convert. “I’ve always been quite outspoken in my views but I didn’t become an extremist until I put on a hijab.”

Meanwhile, Labor leader Kevin Rudd called on the federal government to explain why Ms Ridley was allowed to enter Australia.

AAP, 7 April 2007