The participation and inclusion of all groups in the social fabric of society is at the heart of multiculturalism as a policy; participation and inclusion that delivers a sense of cohesion resulting in feelings of ownership, belonging, safety and sanctuary. However, the official idealistic rhetoric of embracing diversity in nationhood scarcely matches the reality of discrimination and vilification that has become the norm of the experiences of the everyday living of many Muslim Australians. The constructions of Muslims as the significant “other”, opposed to ideals of modernization, continue to affect the inclusion and contribution of Muslims in Australian society. The present waxing and waning of anti Islamic sentiment in many western nations, trails international events since 9/11, and in Australia resonates very strongly with the official position in border containment of Australian immigration policy historically. Giving an abridgement of the setting in which multiculturalism as a policy has developed in Australia, this paper discusses the backdrop on which the social construction of the Muslim as “the other” has arisen, following it by an examination of how, despite the rhetoric of tolerance, empathy and harmonious living from the authorities, Islam phobia continues to triumph in its many forms. The dialogue of “Islamic threat” ranging from the usually touted terror attacks to political takeovers that would infringe on the cultural rights of Australian society often emanates from the domain of public statesmanship. The paper stresses the importance of public awareness in overcoming levels of antipathy against Muslims and emphasizes the role of commentaries of the leadership elite in the shaping of attitudes towards minority groups such as Muslims.
|Keywords:||Multiculturalism, Muslims, Australia, Diversity|
PhD candidate, Institute of Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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