Islam in the Australian Community: Resisting the Politics of Fear

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Sky News

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Sky News

In October 2015 Global Reconciliation initiated an Alliance for Community Harmony, holding a public forum entitled “Islam in the Australian community: Resisting the politics of fear,” on the 25th October at the Elm Street Uniting Church in North Melbourne.

The forum was the first of a series of actions arranged by Global Reconciliation and was led by representatives of many organisations including the Islamic Council of Victoria, Liberty Victoria, Initiatives of Change and the Greens.

“The meeting was a response to a widespread perception that Australian values are under threat as a result of the recent vilification of Muslims. In recent weeks we have witnessed attempts by some politicians, media commentators and others to stir up intolerance and hostility and to divide us by singling out part of the Australian community, perpetrating harmful stereotypes and misrepresenting Islamic faith and community values,” said Professor Paul Komesaroff, Executive Director of Global Reconciliation, quoting from the Community Reconciliation Pledge that was launched at the Forum. “This is resulting in aggression and actual violence towards Australian Muslims and is undermining the social fabric of our whole community.”

Participants examined the reasons for these developments and considered ways in which the community should respond to protect core Australian values, such as respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, equality of men and women, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, and mutual respect, tolerance, and compassion for those in need.

“We believe that at times when democratic values are under threat all Australians – Muslim and non-Muslim – must demonstrate their true meaning through our own actions,” said Nail Aykan, General Manager of the Islamic Council of Victoria.