Multiculturalism and Islamophobia in Australia

With a vocal minority holding racist views about Islam, a parliamentary report is warning that anti-Muslim sentiments are casting a pale on the success of multiculturalism in Australia.

“The committee’s analysis has revealed that the perception of Islam as a threat has led to serious concerns within the community, which in turn is sometimes used as a justification for aggressive racist attacks and intensifying the marginalization of Muslims,” says the parliamentary report cited by The Australian on Tuesday, March 19.

“This results in and springs from a consolidation of conservative attitudes both within Islamic communities and across the mainstream, with public discussion entrenching fear and alarmist views.”

A two-year inquiry into multiculturalism in Australia has found overwhelming concerns on Muslims and their faith.

It found that out of 513 submissions to the inquiry, 212 raised concerns about or discussed the question of Islam in Australia. Some 113 submissions objected to the possible introduction of legal pluralism to accommodate the requirements of Islamic Shari`ah.

The report says many submissions asserted that multiculturalism was “laying the foundations for ethnic separatism under increased migration from Islamic countries”.

The parliamentary committee also heard accusations that Muslim imams were encouraging Muslim-only enclaves. “References were made to Muslim ‘enclaves’ in Sydney and Melbourne, and the riots in Cronulla in 2005, to suggest a lack of willingness on the part of Muslims to embrace the Australian lifestyle, values and behaviors,” the report says.

The report, however, notes that most Australians are not racist and are comfortable with cultural diversity. “Nevertheless, a small but vocal number in the community hold racist views and are exacting a high toll both on emerging communities and on social cohesion.”

OnIslam, 19 March 2013

You can read the report, by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, here. The chapter on “Religious diversity: questions about Islam” can be downloaded here.

As the OnIslam article notes, the report does make some concessions to the