The recent election has had serious consequences in taking this country backwards in many ways, not least of which is the bolstering of the numbers of xenophobic bigots in Parliament.
Adding to the racist ramblings of One Nation and the Islamophobia of Christensen and Bernardi, we have a significant push to make hate speech legal, as well as media airheads like Sonia Kruger saying she doesn’t feel safe walking down the street.
Well Pauline and Sonia, I am sure all Australians want to feel safe, so you need to be aware of the consequences of your public utterances and what it is like for Muslims living in Australia.
When Scott Morrison suggested it would be politically advantageous to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate, he cynically chose to fuel and use fear and resentment to foster his own ambition. Whatever it takes to win.
Tony Abbott embraced the idea, ramping up the rhetoric about “death cults”. National security had worked well for him before when he looked like losing the 2001 election until saved by the World Trade Tower attack and the children overboard lie.
Bronwyn Bishop fanned the flames, urged on by George Christensen, Cory Bernardi and Jacquie Lambie, by deciding to have women wearing the niqab or the burqa separated from the public in Parliament House and made to sit with school children in a glassed-off area of the public galleries, a decision that was overturned after public outrage.
In the three weeks after police anti-terror raids in 2014, when the debate about “ban the burqa” was raging, there were at least 30 attacks on Muslims – mainly against women wearing the hijab.
Assaults or attacks on persons, including verbal abuse or hate speech
- A woman in hijab is physically attacked and her car subsequently vandalised with profanities spray painted on it in western Sydney
- A heavily pregnant woman verbally abused and intimidated in Sydney
- A mother and her baby verbally abused, spat on and their pram kicked in Sydney
- A mother and daughter verbally abused and a passer-by physically assaulted for intervening in Newcastle
- A mother and her child verbally abused and told to take her child away from the other children at a playground in Melbourne
- A woman in hijab has a cup of coffee hurled through the window of her car in Brisbane
- A mother and her baby approached by three men, has her hijab ripped off, is spat on and pushed to the ground in Brisbane
- A woman is approached by a man and told to take her hijab off so he can burn it in Brisbane
- A woman is verbally abused by a man who threatens to burn her house down
- A woman is approached by men in a Perth shopping centre who try to rip her hijab from her head
- Young woman takes off her hijab out of fear for her safety
Threats and/or attacks on property or institutions
- Lakemba Mosque and Auburn Gallipoli Mosque directly threatened in letters sent by the Australian Defence League
- Two cars belonging to a Muslim family has the words ‘Muslim Dog’ spray painted on them in Wentworthville
- Direct threats against the Grand Mufti of Australia issued by anonymous members of the Australian Defence League via a letter saying “Muslims…Australia will fight you ‘terror for terror’ ‘blood for blood’ ‘bomb for bomb’ “
- Minto Mosque receives a threatening letter from an anonymous source
- Mareeba mosque vandalised with the word ‘evil’ spray-painted across the front
- Logan Mosque subjected to hate attack with anti-Muslim pamphlets dumped on its grounds, saying ‘Terrorists born in Australia are not Australians – they are Muslims’ and ‘Muslims are not welcome in Australia, go back to where you came from’
- Holland Park Mosque has a pig’s head embedded with a cross dumped on its grounds
There have been many other incidents, like the burning down of Brisbane’s Kuraby Mosque in the days after 9/11 and, just a few weeks ago, a firebombing and anti-Islam graffiti attack outside a mosque and school in Perth’s south-east.
A man who has been linked to anti-Islam groups and who has posted support on social media for the True Blue Crew, the United Patriots Front and Reclaim Australia, has been arrested and charged with collecting or making documents likely to facilitate a terrorist act; and planning or preparing for a terrorist act. During a brief appearance in the Melbourne magistrates court on Sunday, Phil Galea declared the charges a conspiracy.
The federal justice minister, Michael Keenan, said Galea’s case was the first time commonwealth terrorism laws had been used to charge someone who is alleged to have been a rightwing extremist.
Except this same guy was arrested late last year and served one month after pleading guilty to possessing five Tasers and a quantity of mercury in the days before a Reclaim Australia anti-immigration rally. Apparently that didn’t count as terrorism?
Violence can often be related to mental illness, or feelings of isolation, identity confusion, hopelessness.
We, as a society, would do better to address the problems that may contribute to the violence rather than exacerbating the exclusion and confusion that may lead to it.
We need education, not misinformation. All people should feel safe and valued and given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to our society.
And our politicians should be held to account for the violence that their intemperate language encourages.