Anti-Muslim hate: from extreme to mainstream

In December 2015, Donald Trump proposed in the wake of the San Bernadino shootings that Muslims should be banned from entering the US, including US citizens currently out of the country. At that time, his proposal was met with widespread condemnation.

Fast forward nine months – during which we’ve seen further terror attacks, Brexit, armed police ordering a Muslim woman to disrobe on a French beach and the election of four One Nation senators in Australia – and it is clear that the forces of division are growing. Reflecting this, a recent poll found that almost half of all Australians now support a ban on Muslim immigration in Australia.

Pauline Hanson’s ascension has been met with a profound silence from politicians in both major parties who know they need to rely on her vote (with the notable exception of Liberal John Alexander). Her 60 minutes profile was friendly and chatty. After the speech in which she targeted Muslims 45 times in 30 minutes the Minister for women Michaelia Cash rushed to hug her. Significant commentary has emphasised the need to “understand” and address the grievances of her supporters. While this is true to tackle bigotry long term, the immediate need is to for alternative voices to be raised so that Hanson’s ideas are at least contested in the public sphere.

Muslim Australians are now in the position of knowing one in every two people do not want people like them in Australia. Will Trump’s idea to create a register of Muslims be the next one to go mainstream? How about the suggestion printed in The Australian that Muslims should be interned?

Recognising the urgency to tackle this issue, GetUp, the progressive activist organisation that has been so effective it has inspired Cory Bernardi to establish a conservative equivalent, is launching a campaign to tackle racial and religious bigotry. We urge those who are able to support GetUp’s campaign financially to do so. We also ask everyone to speak out about this issue at every opportunity, public or private, they get. You can start by sharing this post.

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