Australian distrust of Muslims widespread: Rights report

March 21st, 2011 - 1:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Mar. 21 (ANI): A new Australian Human Rights Commission report to be released today has said the Australian distrust of Muslims is widespread.

Muslim concerns include problems for women who wear the hijab, getting permission to build mosques and Islamic schools, and the following of certain Islamic laws, for example, relating to food or funerals.

The report, Freedom of Religion and Belief in 21st Century Australia, reveals a vastly more complex religious landscape than 1998, when the last similar survey was done.

The research involved community consultations with 274 religious and secularist groups, and with governments, human rights groups and ethnic and city councils, plus more than 2000 public submissions.

According to The Age, it suggests that a far wider religious diversity and the emergence of significant religious communities (Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh among others) means a very different context for issues of religious freedom and belief.

It says there is a current of anti-Muslim discourse that suggests an entrenched hostility often related to overseas events.

Genuine religious differences have also not become any easier to manage. Pagans (nature-based religions, such as Wicca) in particular claim to face prejudice and discrimination.

Australian Multicultural Foundation director and co-author Hass Dellal said yesterday the report’s role was to record the varying views so that every group could hear its own voice represented.

It did not make recommendations but would be a resource for governments and faith communities.

According to co-author Gary Bouma, the report highlights how diverse and difficult the issues facing Australia are, but also that there is hope they will be solved.

The report also says that the secularist voice - atheists, humanists, rationalists - is emerging strongly, concerned to oppose religious influence on political parties.

In turn, many religious groups are worried about attempts to exclude them from the public square.

It says religious leaders in Australia are generally doing a good job and understand the complexities of a multicultural society. (ANI)

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