Thursday, January 21, 2016
Claim: One in 10 Australians ’highly Islamophobic’ and have a fear of Muslims
A phobia is an irrational fear. There are daily reports of Muslims killing other people -- mostly other Muslims but also Westerners -- so what is irrational in fearing attacks from them? Many Australians have already died at their hands and their attacks are often random and unpredictable. Are we supposed to look forward to that? I am surprised that so few Australians fear Muslims.
One in 10 Australians are “highly Islamophobic” and have a fear or dread of Muslims, a University of South Australia study has found.
The University’s International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding has surveyed 1000 Australians, finding 10 per cent of people had negative or hostile attitudes towards Muslims, with the elderly, less educated and those with a poor attitude towards migrants more likely to hold such views.
The level of worry about terrorism in Australia had a strong influence on their views, the report, provided to The Australian, said.
Riaz Hassan said the survey was the first “pulse” taken of Australians’ perceptions towards one of the country’s most diverse religious communities and he hoped more research would be done to gauge shifts in attitudes.
The findings indicated most Australians were not Islamophobic, with 70 per cent surveyed comfortable having a Muslim as a family member or close friend, although more felt social distance from Muslims than from other religious groups, Professor Hassan said. A further 20 per cent were undecided on the issue.
The centre’s work examines the basis of tensions between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds and the role governments, local communities and the media play within a social and cultural rather than purely religious context.
“There are pockets of prejudice and anxiety directed towards Muslims, for example among the aged and those facing financial insecurity, but the great majority of Australians in all states and regions are comfortable to live alongside Australian Muslims,’’ the report, based on a survey taken in September, said.
About 60 per cent of the 500,000 Muslims living here came from 183 countries, making them the most ethnically and nationally heterogeneous religious communities, the report said.
By 2050, Muslims would grow from 2.2 per cent to 5 per cent of the Australian population, making Islam the second largest religion.
Professor Hassan said Australians’ tolerance towards immigrants strongly influenced their Islamophobia score while higher proportions of older Australians, aged 65 to 74, people who had not completed Year 12, and those not in the labour force showed higher rates of negative views.
The report authors said it was surprising that political affiliations had a strong correlation with Islamophobia.
Australians aligned with the Liberal and Nationals parties have significantly higher levels of Islamophobia than those aligned with the Labor Party while Greens voters tended to have the lowest Islamophobia score, the report said. [So supporters of the less realistic political parties were also more optimistic about Muslims! It figures!]
West Australian minister calls on anti-uranium lobby to 'accept WA mines'
Western Australia's Minister from Mines is calling on the anti uranium lobby to accept WA mines in the wake of last month's climate change agreement in Paris.
Bill Marmion said there were currently four uranium mines on the cards for WA and nuclear energy could be the solution to the current fossil fuel problem.
And he believes that Western Australia is well placed to take advantage of the current and future demand for non fossil fuels, given that one of the world's largest uranium supplies is sitting just under the surface in some rather remote regions of the state. "We could be a leading exporter of uranium on the world scene if these mines get up and running and that could actually help carbon emissions worldwide," he said.
"So I think now it's timely that everybody takes another look at uranium and nuclear energy."
Mia Pepper from the Conservation council said she and Mr Marmion must have been tuned into two different conferences, because her take on Paris was quite different.
She said the minister was overly optimistic in his hopes for a West Australian uranium mining future.
"The outcomes of the Paris conference were actually very not supportive of the nuclear industry," she said. "The nuclear industry has for a very long time, tried to capitalise on climate change as a foothold for the nuclear industry and I think now more than ever, because of Paris, those dreams are very much dashed. "It's becoming clearer and clearer that renewable energy is very much the solution to the climate change problem that we face."
West Australian uranium miner Vimy Resources has welcomed the Minister's call for the anti-uranium lobby to accept to accept WA mines.
The company is currently undertaking its public environmental review and Mike Young said it was inevitable that uranium mining would eventually become part of the West Australian economy.
"If we all work together, we can all ensure that uranium mining in Western Australia is done to world's best practice and considering that the nuclear power industry is not going to disappear, that's probably the best outcome for everybody," he said.
Low-earning Australians to be kicked out of Britain under new visa rules
Australians working in Britain may not be able to stay there indefinitely if they are on a lower income, under new rules due to kick in this year.
The changes, which take effect from April, will mean non-European workers will have to earn at least £35,000 ($72,000) a year to be allowed to settle in the UK for longer than six years.
The visa move, which was first flagged in 2012, will apply to those outside the European Economic Zone in a bid to "break the link" between working and staying permanently in Britain.
The changes will require non-Europeans to earn at least £35,000 a year to extend their visas.
The changes will require non-Europeans to earn at least £35,000 a year to extend their visas. Photo: Anna Bryukhanova
It follows a Cameron government push to reduce migration numbers, with estimates the numbers of non-European skilled workers settling in Britain each year would drop from 60,000 to 20,000 under the change.
Along with Indians and Americans, Australians make up the top nationalities given work visas in Britain. About 17,250 of the visas were given to Australians in 2014, but more than 12,300 of these went Australians under 30, who are on the two year "youth mobility" scheme.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia had "made representations" to the British government on the changes to its migration system.
This included making a submission to a review into the visa changes in September last year.
"The Australian submission noted that further restricting the Tier 2 visa [which involves the £35,000 rule] had the potential to adversely affect the commercial interests of both countries' businesses and investors, and consequently the economic interests of both Australia and the UK, and could impact on people-to-people links," the spokeswoman said.
The visa change is also generating opposition in Britain, amid concerns that it will force skilled graduates, teachers, health and charity workers to leave the country. A petition against the change, lodged with the British Parliament, has so far generated more than 70,000 signatures.
"This ridiculous measure is only going to affect 40,000 people who have already been living and working in the UK for 5 years, contributing to our culture and economy," it says.
"It will drive more workers from the NHS [National Health Service] and people from their families. This empty gesture will barely affect the immigration statistics. It's a waste of time, money and lives."
If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it is likely it will be debated by the Parliament.
Operation Boomerang: Anti-vegan Australia Day lamb ad gets the all-clear
The controversial Australia Day ad criticised for inciting hatred towards vegans while encouraging people to eat lamb has been given the all-clear.
In an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed all complaints, giving the ad the OK and in effect telling any objectors to learn to take a joke.
The ad from Meat and Livestock Australia, starring popular SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin and long-time lamb consumption advocate Sam Kekovich, includes a scene showing a military officer taking a blow torch to vegan's apartment.
There are two versions of the ad; a 30-second version appears on free-to-air TV, while the full version appears on YouTube, where it has racked up close to 2 million views.
But both versions have been met with fierce objection from vegans and sympathetic vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Vegans took personal offence to the ad, while others criticised the use of the term "Operation Boomerang" that referred to the ad's premise of bringing home Australian expats for the sole purpose of eating lamb on Australia Day.
The bureau received more than 600 complaints.
"The Board noted that the overall tone and theme of the advertisement is intended to be humorous and considered that the advertisement did not depict material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of the community.
"The Board first considered whether the advertisement is suggestive of terrorism. In the Board's view, most members of the community would understand this advertisement to be a humorous take on movies such as James Bond and Austin Powers-style movies – in particular through the use of Lee Lin Chin in the main character role.
"In the Board's view the advertisement is unlikely to be viewed as depicting or condoning terrorist behaviour and that the level of action and implied violence is not inappropriate for the likely audience.
"The use of the tagline or phrase Operation Boomerang ... is not a reference to Indigenous Australians, but is meant as a reference to something which is to be returned.
"There are exaggerated and unrealistic situations which have the look and feel of a movie. In the Board's view these images ... are fantasy and unrealistic and are not depictions of violence.
"Whilst some members of the community could find the advertisement to be in poor taste ... the issue of taste does not fall under the Code of Ethics."
Meat and Livestock Australia has welcomed the bureau's decision.