Politicians out to demonise Muslims

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Australia, a society created on the basis of racial division and superiority, the ugly face of prejudice and discrimination is, unsurprisingly, still very evident today.

Regardless of the often mentioned idea of a “multicultural” Australia, there seems to be a strong campaign to stigmatise, reject and isolate Muslims from mainstream values and norms.

Through recent comments and initiatives taken by several Liberal and Labor party politicians, the overt nature of anti-Islamic discrimination in Australia is as obvious as it is disgraceful.

Shadow cabinet discussions recently leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald have revealed that Liberal immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison argued that the Liberal Party should try to capitalise on the electorate’s apprehensions about Muslim immigration and Muslims’ supposed inability to integrate into Australian society.

These leaks followed Morrison’s February 17 statement that the government should not have paid the $300,000 bill to fly surviving family members to the funerals of asylum seekers killed in last year’s shipwreck tragedy at Christmas Island.

His statement seems to clash with his comments at the time of the disaster, which he called “a terrible tragedy, a realisation of our worst fears”.

It appears that in the face of a disastrous event, Morrison, like many of our other right-wing political leaders, was quick to release his two-cents of despair and grief.

However, when push came to shove and a small portion of Australia’s budget was spent on restoring a degree of compassion — after a tragedy that should have never taken place — Morrison made his true thoughts and political aspirations clear.

Alongside this, on February 15 ACT Liberal senator Gary Humphries tabled a petition in federal parliament that called for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. The petition had only three signatures.

Humphries said he disagreed with the petition, but felt he had “an obligation to fulfill or place before the parliament points of view of citizens if they're on matters that affect the powers and the role of the federal parliament”, ABC Online reported.

Freedom of speech is vital and necessary for any society. However, when these sorts of Islamophobic opinions are given the opportunity to help shape absurdly discriminatory laws, it should not be acceptable.

Federal Attorney General Robert McClelland announced a $1 million program towards “tackling Muslim extremism” on February 22. Under the program, a group of 16 young Muslim people will undergo “training” to act as “leaders in the community”.

Ironically, this initiative in itself is a clear display of “extreme” discrimination towards Australian Muslims.





Alongside this, alarm bells should begin to ring when we notice that Islam is increasingly the only religion portrayed as possessing “extremist” ideals.

Have we forgotten about the infamous Ku Klux Klan organisation? For about 150 years, this Christian “extremist” group has carried out countless inhumane acts.

Of course, the argument in response is that this group included only a small fraction of Christian believers and, in fact, went against the teachings of Christianity altogether. Well guess what; the same argument applies to Islam.

Rather than falling for the conditioned belief that Islam and Muslims should be kept at a distance from the rest of Western society, it is vital to recognise the hypocrisy, discrimination and unfairness our politicians present us with.

We should take it upon ourselves to stand in solidarity against this injustice and move towards greater understanding and acceptance.

From GLW issue 870

Comments

Anonymous, abusive critics have no credibility

I regularly read and enjoy Green Left Weekly coverage of racial issues. After decades of peaceful muliticulturalism and progress towards Indigenous equality, it is sad to see the Intervention, detention centres Islamophobia and stereotypes take hold. People who speak out about racism love Australia and love humanity and want to see justice delivered to everyone who lives here. They acknowledge that prejudice is widespread throughout the world. They don't single out Australians as racists, rather they are taking initiative to urge Australians to re-examine our past and clean up our backyard.

This contributor refers to the author as "madam" and "ratbag" in the subject line. So it looks like this contributor has both racist and sexist prejudices to deal with. Power on Green Left Weekly!These anonymous abusive critics have no credibility.

Quite frankly madam, you are a poorly researched ratbag

Aside from your obvious hatred of Australia in general which comes through from your initial poorly substantiated statement in opening this article; "a sociey created on the basis of racial division"; you make numerous assertions which cannot be supported. The first gaolers of this colony after the British invaded were Scots and Southern English in the main who were committed to making life as hard for the Northern English and the Irish convicts as they could, so yes, they did transport racism. The arguments that had been inherited from the newly formed America and Europe of "the noble savege" left the invaders in a quandery about their attitudes to the indigenous peoples. This is not to excuse them, but it is to go beyond a child's view of socialism that sees a notion of equality for all races to be part of the mindset of a people for whom such was anathema (the gaolers). Phillip, to his credit, tried, but much iniquity was visited nevertheless upon the indigineous and rightful stewards of the land. To imply that there was a concerted and conscious racism at work here, is really poor first year undergraduate-style stupidity. Yes the Southern English and Scots gaolers were believers in their own superiority as was always the English military class and it was displayed just as virulently in Africa, India snf parts of Asia, so to somehow by implication, assume that this country in the 18th century was a lone offender, is again, convenient, but poor history.

The idea that the very ugly face of racism is present today in a country that, unlike England, never had the violent 80's race riots of Toxteth and Brixton, A country that (and even you mention the Ku Klux Klan); has never, unlike the US had a major Klan presence where Afro Americans have been killed, raped and tortured. A country that, unlike South Africa and despite the "stolen children" and similar ugly policies of Australia; never had Apartheid like South Africa where citizens who were black were routinely interrogated and beaten by a white bureaucratic power base. A country that, unlike Germany, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic/Slovak Republic, Bulgaris, Hungary and Poland, never had a specific anti Jewish pogrom. A country that, unlike Ireland and Rwanda, never had two warring factions killing each other on the base of tribal affiliation or religion. A country that, unlike most of post Stalinist Europe, does not chase and prejudice against gypsies. This could go on and on but to accuse this country with your dirty, perverted implication that somehow this country needs the filthy tar of racism that your ill researched brush would use, is disgraceful. I note that this irresponsible article has been quoted by Fort Street High School to indoctrinate students as young as 13 and 14 in the exercise of written argument. Shame on you and shame on all who condone such a violation of NSWelsh children.