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20 Nov, 2014

Beware of cover for making anti-Muslim bigotry respectable – Sydney Morning Herald

In the case of contemporary anti-Muslim feeling, there are frequently racialised elements. Religion can be used as a surrogate for race. When we see verbal and other attacks against Muslim Australians, it is often accompanied by a nastiness that resembles racial hatred.

Anti-Muslim sentiment can be based on negative racial stereotypes about people from the Middle East. Take, for example, some of the recent commentary about the suburb of Lakemba, home to some of Sydney’s Muslim communities. One newspaper in August featured a two-page spread about the suburb titled, “Inside Sydney’s Muslim Land”, in which the correspondent spent 24 hours in a place “where a pervasive monoculture has erased the traditional Aussie way of life”. In the piece itself, the correspondent would observe that the suburb had an ethnic mix “similar to what you’d find in any Arabic city”.

In the space of a few sentences, then, we see the conflation of Muslim and Arab – of religion quickly expanding into something more cultural, ethnic, and arguably racial.

Read the rest: Beware of cover for making bigotry respectable.