By Ayesha Sohail
Prejudice and discrimination towards the Muslim community in Melbourne is an ongoing issue, presenting Muslims as a ‘threat to our way of life’.
Eighteen year old Islamic student Zaitun Hussein had a terrifying encounter with an anti-Muslim man on a Metro train last year on the Flinders line, leaving her nineteen year old sister, sixteen year old friend and herself scared for their safety.
“This was during the time that the Sydney Siege was happening, and this man was saying to others on the train that if you see a Muslim, you should bash them,” Ms Hussein said. The student described the man to be in his thirties. “…No one on the train helped… I was very scared, we thought he was going to hit us.”
Ms Hussein suggested that Islamophobia stems from people being uneducated about the Islamic culture. “My mum always says it’s our part to try and educate them, but sometimes I think that’s not fair, I get tired of doing that.”
Twenty five year old construction worker and supporter of ‘Reclaim Australia’ Robert Tompson claims that only Australians should live in Australia. “When Muslims come to Australia, they bring their culture over here and we don’t need or want it,” Said Mr Tompson. “…And burkas should not be allowed because this is Australia and we don’t do that.”
Australian Muslim women centre for human rights community worker and mother of two, Jaweria Khalid claims that Islamophobia is a perpetuating issue in Melbourne, and needs to be stopped. “We have individual responsibilities to get to know those different from us, and understand their lifestyle.”
Mrs Khalid said that the media plays a role in the degradation of Islam, claiming that it can cause the Islamic community to feel ‘very low and unaccepted in society’. “It is important for the media to help by displaying the positive stories of Islam also, instead of always showing the negative stories about Muslims nowadays,” Mrs Khalid said.
Mrs Khalid claimed racism towards the Islamic culture is causing Muslim women in particular to avoid leaving their own homes.
“Most important thing is for others to understand the Islamic culture and for them to understand that we are just like them, we all have work and life struggles…we are all human,” Mrs Khalid said.