A recent Essential Research poll had found , including 60 per cent of Liberal-National Coalition voters, 40 per cent of Labor voters and 34 per cent of Green voters who agreed with the proposition that Muslim Australians were not integrating (assimilating) into “Australian culture” and pose a threat to Australia. It is the result of a steady diet of fear, and xenophobia fed to Australians by openly racist politicians and the mass media.
Australian politicians and the media are demonising an already marginalised small Muslim Community (2.2% of the total Australian population) to score points and win votes. It is true that Muslims have a strong Muslim identity, because Islam is not just a religion, Islam is a way of life. However, when compared with other minorities, Muslim Australians are the most integrated Australians in every field of life. They have succumbed to a repressive society that imposed its beliefs and values on them. It is nothing more than forced assimilation justified by exaggerated fears of a fabricated threat.
Despite the daily racism and extreme hostility they face, nearly 86 per cent of Muslim Australians felt that relations between Muslims and non-Muslims were friendly and were not strained, as politicians and the media allege, according to a study by the University of Western Sydney. The study ultimately revealed the “ordinariness of the Muslims” and their aspirations in Australia, said Professor Kevin Dunn of Western Sydney University. (The Study).
Muslim Australians have the right to live their lives without being vilified and discriminated against. As Uthman Badar writes in The Sydney Morning Herald: “Contrary to baseless claims otherwise, Muslims are not demanding that Australia become an Islamic state, or that sharia be enforced. They are not demanding to be outside the law or judged by another set of laws. They're simply asking to be left alone to practice their faith; that their beliefs and values not be interfered with by the state; that if some Muslim does the wrong thing he be dealt like any other criminal, without the entire community being criminalised and Islam demonised; that they be able to participate in debates about the law, morality and government policy without being considered a fifth column”. How can a small minority of ordinary Australian Muslims pose a threat to “Australian culture”?
Let’s call a spade a spade. What is “Australian culture”? There is no unique white Australian culture. Australia is not known for its vibrant culture. Australia is a pretentious society addicted to punching far above its weight. There is an old Indigenous Culture with unique languages and cultural adaptations that most non-Indigenous Australians know nothing about. How many non-Indigenous Australians know where the Anindilyakwa people live? We all know how brutally Indigenous Australians are treated. They are despised by non-Indigenous Australians. Most non-Indigenous Australians choose the privilege of turning a blind eye. Australia is a colonial outpost, dominated by white Anglo-American culture. The so-called “Multiculturalism” – where each ethnic group is put in its designated box – is racially-promoted ghettoization designed to enforce white privilege and white supremacy. To the contrary, Australia has a concocted image that is the exact opposite of its ugly reality. After the election of Pauline Hanson, Australia can claim to be among the world’s most anti-Muslim and systemically racist societies where victims (mostly Muslims) of white racism have no protection.
While many Australians are blaming Pauline Hanson and her gang for promoting racism, racism is deeply-entrenched in Australia. Australia was built on Racism and violence. It is elite racism – coated with the language of “tolerance” and multiculturalism – imposed by the white dominant class. The media, the education system, sport, the police, the justice system and Australian politics are systemically racist and plagued by rampant corruption. Most Australians breathe racism and cannot live without it. It is in their DNA makeup. From early childhood, Australians are conditioned by the corporate media (TV in particular), politicians, and even their parents to objectify others – non-white people and women. Unlike in other countries, racism in Australia is a well-managed subtle kind of racism. It is structural form of racism that has a far larger impact on people’s lives, where religious, cultural or ethnic minorities are made to feel they do not belong in Australia.
Most people know that, anti-Muslim sentiment did not begin with Pauline Hanson. A more sophisticated, highbrow anti-Muslim sentiment was used to justify the mandatory indefinite detention of Muslim refugees. It was used to justify the torture of Australian citizens in Guantanamo Bay. It was, and is, used to justify wars in Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. It is used to justify our support for Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians. It is used to justify our support for murderous tyrants in Muslim countries, who oppress their Muslim citizens. A lot of anti-Muslim argument has come from the elite’s need to defend their anti-Muslim policies. As Eric Hoffer observed, ‘when power is wedded to chronic fear… it becomes formidable”. (A. McQuire, M. Brull, & S. Sabawi, New Matilda, 22 July 2016).
Muslims are discriminated against because they are Muslims. It has absolutely nothing to do with Muslims not integrating into Australian culture. Most Australians have never met a Muslim in their lives and most Australians know nothing about Islam. Indeed, according to a recent study by Deakin University: “people who don't know any Muslims or interact with any Muslims in the community felt the most fear around terrorism. People who know Muslims and more about Islam as a religion are the ones who don't feel threatened”, said the researcher, Dr Matteo Vergani.
All that Australians know about Muslims in Australia is from racist politicians and the media. For example, more often Australian TV channels devote time to “discuss” (denounce and demonise) Muslims and Islam without a Muslim voice to respond, denying Australians a rare opportunity to hear two sides. When the elitist Sydney Writers’ Festival invites an illiterate and ignorant Somali-born refugee (the anti-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and promotes her as an expert on Muslims and Islam, you know there is something wrong with Australian society. , “Hirsi has no relevant expertise on Islam – she is ‘only because of her bigotry… treated as an expert on Islam’. ‘a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.’ This sounds a lot like the language of Tony Abbott on ISIS terrorists. Yet while right-thinking progressives in Australia have mocked Abbott’s rhetoric, Hirsi gets a warmer reception” (Michael Brull, New Matilda). Hirsi, validates what the anti-Muslim white bigots already believe: that Islam is bad and the West is inherently good.
What is really astonishing about Australians (the elites) is that Donald Trump, the Republican U.S. presidential candidate, has been criticised in Australia by the Australian political and media establishments, who are rubbing shoulders with Pauline Hanson and her gang. Trump hasn’t said anything that Australia is not doing or not supporting. He is demonised thoroughly simply because he said he will do what Australia is already doing. Maybe because he said that if elected he will talk to President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The Australian Green Party leader Richard Di Natale said recently: “I think [Trump] is dangerous for the U.S. and dangerous for the global community, and you just need to look at those clashes that we have seen recently between anti-Trump and pro-Trump supporters”. What a cynical propaganda. Take a look in your own backyard, Mr Di Natale. The Clinton war criminals have been (and will be if elected) disastrous for world’s peace and prosperity.
Like in the U.S. and in many parts of Europe, Australian Muslims are living in fear. People do not know when the Police and Special Forces will raid their homes, arrest and imprisoned their loved ones indefinitely. The policy is reminiscent of Kristallnacht, the night of horror in 1938 when rampaging Nazis smashed Jewish homes and businesses in Germany and killed scores of Jews. Muslims are unfairly targeted and accused of terrorism, because terrorism is framed as a Muslim problem. Hence, too many anti-Muslim draconian laws are predicated on the false and racist assumption that Muslims are more likely to engage in terrorism. To the contrary, Muslims are the victims of well-orchestrated terrorism.
For more than five years, the Syrian people have paid dearly for the crimes of terrorists. It is well-documented that terrorist networks like ISIS [Daesh], al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front and their affiliates are U.S.-Israel proxy terror networks. They are labelled by Western governments and Western media as “moderate rebels”, “militants” and “opposition forces”, but not terrorists. They have been trained, financed, armed, directed and protected by the U.S. and U.S. allies, including Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France, Qatar, Jordan among others. In addition, the U.S. and its allied air forces acting as the terrorists’ air force and provided air cover for the terrorists. The recent deliberate air strikes (17 Sep. 2016) by the U.S. and its allies on the positions of the Syrian troops at Deir ez-Zor, south east Al-Raqqa – in which more than 60 troops were killed and hundreds were injured – is a case in point. It allowed ISIS terrorists to occupy the heights around the airport. The criminal air attacks were designed to sabotage the ceasefire agreement and strengthen the terrorists (ISIS, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front) against the democratically-elected Syrian Government. Before this dirty war on Syria, Syria was an Oasis of civilisation and religious tolerance.
The so-called “Islamic Terrorism” is a Western-concocted pretext to manipulate the public (instil fear) and justify discrimination against Muslims. The ongoing demonisation of Muslims and Islam in Australia, the U.S. and Europe is part of the policy to divert attention away from Western nations’ roles in creating and supporting terrorism. As the violence increases in their homelands, Muslims who manged to flee and seek refuge abroad are demonised and used as scapegoats by politicians and the media.
Australia, which is reached by only a trickle of Muslim refugees, has turned into a nightmare for them. Australia prides itself on its widely-condemned and inhumane anti-Muslim “White Australia’s” refugee policy. The New York Times has recently called Australia’s draconian refugee policy “unconscionable”, and urged European policymakers not to look at Australia’s “ruthlessly effective effort to stop boats” as an option. No decent human being likes to associate with a society that sells cruelty and treats dogs better than humans. The current Muslim refugee crisis is the predictable results of the U.S.-led Western war of terror in the Middle East and Africa, to which Australia is a party.
In Australia, refugees – mostly Muslims – are stopped at sea by the Australian Navy and Borders Control Forces (Operation Sovereign Borders) and shipped to grotesque Concentration Camps in poor Island nations like Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The voiceless refugees, including children, women and men have been sexually abused, tortured, exploited and some have been murdered. Journalists and media who visited the refugee Camp on Manus Island have been ordered (and threatened) to delete video footage. It is the Government’s view that anything that contradicts the Government narrative is unacceptable and should not be made available to Australians.
A recent article, entitled “Is Australia engaged in torturing asylum seekers? A cautionary tale for Europe,” co-authored by John-Saul Sanggaran, a medical officer who worked at one of such camps, was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics and found that the Australian government is creating unbearable conditions at these Concentration Camps to send a message to other would-be refugees not to come to Australia. The criminal policy is supported by the majority of Australians. Can you imagine the outrage if Australian women and children were treated in the same way as refugees are treated?
Although most Australians know that the Government's refugee policy is cruel and in flagrant violation of international law, a poll in January 2014 found that 60 per cent of Australians support the Government policy of harsh treatment of refugees and urge the Government to “increase the severity” of the policy. As Henry Giroux writes: “Shallow consumerisms coupled with an indifference to the needs and suffering of others has produced a politics of disengagement and a culture of moral irresponsibility” in Australian society. Any society in which politicians and the media appeal to bigotry, promoting hatred and promising to terrorise refugees to win elections, is a sick society.
The onus is on the other half of Australians to begin the dismantling of the Hansonism culture of ignorance and racism. Australia needs to evolve beyond the façade of multiculturalism into a cohesive nation for every Australian. The 49 per cent of Australians who support this racist and backwards policy against Muslims are doing Australia great harm. As McQuire and colleagues rightly argue: “We don’t have a Muslim problem in Australia. We have a racism problem, and it is an emergency. We urge readers to take this as a wake-up call, to build stronger ties across communities, and to challenge racism, whether it comes from the top or from the bottom”. Only together, will the contagious virus of racism be defeated.
Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst and researcher living in Australia.