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Pauline's peddling the hate again

  • 16 September 2016


I'm not writing this for Pauline Hanson. Peddling anti-immigration and anti-Muslim views are her schtick, and she does it well enough to be elected to the Senate 20 years after her first go in federal parliament and some pretty thorough Labor and Liberal campaigns to neutralise her as an opponent.

She's not going to change what works so well for her politically, truth be damned (although I am sure she absolutely believes what she says).

Nor am I writing it for her most avid supporters, like the Party for Freedom members who frightened the wits out of some Gosford Anglican churchgoers in August, after storming their service dressed up as scary Muslim foreigners complete with prayer-mats and Arabic prayers blasting from a loudspeaker. Theirs is a wilful hatred and ignorance unamenable to rational argument.

Instead, I am writing this for ordinary Australians. The ones who probably don't know any Muslims; despite Hanson's alarmist prophecy of Islam's follower's 'swamping' Australia, they are only two per cent of the population.

So, this is my message to you, as an Australian Muslim, albeit one who actually did go back to where she came from (well ... my great-great-grandparents at any rate), that bastion of Islamicity: Ireland. Muslims are not scary bogeymen, they are normal people trying to get on with their lives despite being the subject of intense media and political speculation every time something horrible happens overseas.

Like everyone else, they want to make a few bucks and provide something better for their kids. Most are not intensely religious — Fethi Mansouri from Deakin University did one of the few surveys of religiosity and found Muslims have about the same levels as other Aussies — and even the ones that are, generally use their faith as a source to help them be better Australian citizens. I should know, I spent years gaining a doctorate through studying Australian Muslims and what they think about living in the sunburnt country.

But perhaps the most dangerous part of Hanson's tirade is not her call to ban halal certification, burqas or building new mosques and schools. It is not her ludicrous insinuation that sick Aussies can't get healthcare partly because of polygamous Muslims having too many children. Nor is it her invoking the tired old anti-Lebanese cliché of no-go areas and crime rackets, nor the totally discredited idea that we are behind bans on Christmas carols and hospital Bibles.

All of these have been