On Wednesday, a solidarity speakout was held at Curtin University in support of the 50 lives lost in the terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch.
Held in conjunction with the Curtin Muslim Student’s Association, the Guild, Socialist Alternative Perth, United Against Bigotry and Hatred as well as other Perth organisations, the event was an act of support to Muslim students on campus and to commemorate lives lost in Christchurch.
The terror attack in Christchurch was committed by a 28-year-old Australian man known to regularly participate in online Islamophobic activities. His manifesto was filled with his obsessive Islamophobic rhetoric, including his support for the genocide against Bosnian Muslims.
The shooter’s Australian citizenship has raised concerns about how Australia as a country has enabled Islamophobia.
A group of over 200 in lower Henderson court listened to the testaments from Muslim speakers and activists about Islamophobia in Australia on Wednesday; their personal experiences reverting to Islam but also the support received from parts of the community in the wake of these attacks.
Mosques around Perth have received an expression of support with flowers sent in by people in Perth showing their condolences to the Muslim communities.
Curtin Student’s Muslim Association committee member Hamid-Zubair said that when events such as Christchurch happen, blame should not be pinned on everyday citizens such as has been done in the past to Muslim communities.
“…We as a collective whole have to work towards ensuring that people do not fall into extremist ideologies, because when things like this happen, it’s not just the Muslims who suffer, but rather we all suffer. So, we all have to be united against the struggle against hate and terror,” said Zubair
In 2017, the Deakin University Islamophobia in Australia Report found that when Australian media published material with negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam, there was a rise in individual Islamophobic attacks.
Whilst the show of support has been coming in from around the world, and very active steps have been made by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinta Arden to reduce the access of military-style semi-automatic guns and assault rifles, little action has been made within Australia to address Islamophobia.
United Against Bigotry and Racism campaigner Jacquelin Blackburn used Independent senator Fraser Anning’s recent speech about Muslims being the “usual perpetrators in terrorist attacks” as an example of the ongoing Islamophobia in Federal politics.
“But then days later Scott Morrison announces a 30,000-person cut to immigration levels. I think that shows a clear link between these people and I think it’s the role of the centre-right parties for the last decade since the war on terror that has allowed for the far right to grow.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 30,000-person cut to immigration two days after the attack, to help “curb congestion in major cities”. The caps to immigration was a total reduction from 160,000 to 162,000 immigrants per year.
This ongoing political dog-whistling was said to appeal to far-right supporters in Australia by appealing to anti-immigration sentiments.
“They have to justify their war in the Middle East, justify their war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and their support for Israel, and how do they do that? … they whip up Islamophobia … that legitimises that sort of action,” said Blackburn.
Blackburn encouraged students who wanted to help combat Islamophobia to begin attending action groups and make a stand.
Memorial services will be held across Mosques in Perth Saturday 23 March in support of those who lost their lives. More information can be found here.