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16 Oct, 2014

Islam, Muslims and the cheap politics of fear – Sydney Morning Herald

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s dog-whistle politics have once more brought the “question” of Hizb ut-Tahrir to the table of public debate.

It is unfortunate that discussion about Islam and Muslims only finds traction when politicians decide to use them in the cheap politics of fear. The result is that discussion about these matters only seriously takes place in the context of terrorism and security.

This is the modern manifestation of an age-old European Orientalism which only ever treated the Muslim as an object of fear and interrogation. A threat to be spoken about, not spoken to. A threat to be managed and contained.

The same defines the modern “war on terror” discourse, in which bigotry and tolerance work together to discriminate against Muslims. The bigoted view characterises the Muslim as an existential threat to be expunged. The tolerant view takes the idea of Muslim as threat as the starting point (thus reinforcing it) to then argue: “no, they’re not that bad, we can tolerate them.”

Read the rest: Islam, Muslims and the cheap politics of fear.