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Islamophobia in Light of the Christchurch Terror Attacks

25 Mar 2019
By Professor Samina Yasmeen AM FAIIA
Professor Samina Yasmeen discusses Islamophobia with Flavia Bellieni Zimmerman. Photo: Nancye Miles-Tweedie

Professor Samina Yasmeen AM FAIIA discusses Islamophobia in light of the Christchurch terror attacks.

Professor Yasmeen identifies Islamaphobia as a problem not just in Australia, but around the world. In detailing its rise since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, she argues that it was not until after the London attacks in 2005 that Islamaphobia became a phenomenon that was directed at the broader Muslim community. Prior to this, even after 9/11, she argues that there was still a sense in which people could differentiate between Muslims and Muslim extremists. She says that what she had previously seen as creeping Islamaphobia is now very visible, but, despite this, it is still not all pervasive.

In light of the Christchurch attacks, Professor Yasmeen says Islamophobia directly contributed towards what happened in New Zealand. She argues that, while governments do not endorse such views, the nature of the attack and the way in which the attacker was radicalised online indicates Islamophobia is on the rise around the world. In the Australian context, she says, that while she views Australia as a very successful multicultural society, the fact the attacker came from here shows that pockets of extremism exist.

Professor Yasmeen says it is very difficult to determine if the attacks could have been prevented. On the subject of Senator Fraser Anning’s comments after the attack, she says it is horrendous that someone would try to use the attacks for political gain and that he has damaged Australia’s reputation globally. But his comments serve to draw attention to these extreme views in our society and allows for them to be called out and challenged.

Professor Samina Yasmeen AM FAIIA is the director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies, and lectures in political science and International Relations at the University of Western Australia, Perth. She is the vice president of AIIA WA and fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Interview by Flavia Bellieni Zimmermann.

Video and editing by Nancye Miles-Tweedie.