How to Reduce Islamophobia? Talk About It
From the Australian: “Before a representative sample of Australians travelled to Canberra to hear from a wide range of experts and religious leaders, 35 per cent told Newspoll that Muslims were a threat to the Australian way of life. But after a weekend of deliberations, this fell to 21 per cent. Those who believed Muslims coming to Australia had a bad impact on national security nearly halved from 44 per cent to 23 per cent. The 49 per cent who said the incompatibility of Muslim and non-Muslim values was a big contributor to terrorism fell to 22per cent. Just under a third originally thought that Muslims who come to live here made Australia worse but this shrunk to just 7 per cent. Organiser Pamela Ryan said last night the results showed how much ideas changed when people had the opportunity to learn about the issues and meet Australian Muslims. Before the discussions, those polled consistently exaggerated the Muslim proportion of the population, with under 30 per cent giving the correct answer of 1.5 per cent. At the end of the weekend, this rose to 95 per cent. The Australian was one of the sponsors of the deliberative poll, which brought together 340 Australians from all over the country and all walks of life with 40 Muslims who participated in earlier focus groups. The participants also heard from a wide range of experts and religious leaders, exposing them to radical and moderate Muslim views, to those who opposed Muslim immigration and others who argued it posed no problem. Muslim participants complained that they were judged solely on their appearance, with women in Islamic dress, including those born here, frequently harassed, told to "go home" and refused jobs. Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell praised the many "wonderful" Australian Muslims he had met but urged leaders to confront the problem of the small minority at war with the Western world. "There seems to be some significant evidence that some of them are planning violence against us here and elsewhere - that doesn't seem to happen in any other migrant group," he said. Melbourne sheik Mohammed Omran, who has attracted criticism for his teachings and his radical followers, presented himself as a loyal Australian and "grassroots person" who had been misinterpreted by the media. He argued that the non-Muslim majority in Australia had the prime responsibility to make the Muslim minority feel welcome.” See the full story...