ISLAM AND MUSLIMS IN AUSTRALIA: THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCES OF EARLY SETTLEMENT AND THE POLITICS OF CONTEMPORARY RACE RELATIONS
“Hello, brother” were the last words uttered by Haji-Daoud Nabi, an elderly man who opened the doors of a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand in March 2019. Moments later, he was shot down and killed in a brutal terrorist attack carried out by an Australian white supremacist. This recent tragedy captures the increasingly precarious position that Muslims in the West presently occupy that is no longer confined to discursive racialization and verbal abuse, but is now starting to become a life and death challenge, quite literally. The Christchurch mosque attacks occurred in a local and global context of persisting Islamophobia and rising far-right nationalist fringe groups entering the mainstream in Australia and elsewhere. This paper discusses contemporary attitudes towards Islam and Muslim Australians through an examination of the historical context for the settlement of Muslims communities in Australia from the early days of the nineteenth century to the contemporary era, which has seen a more diversified migration from many parts of the Muslim world. The paper discusses the critical factors that shaped this migration and examines the contemporary social experiences of Muslim Australians in a global context of hyper-securitized agendas often connecting Islam and Muslims to extreme violent ideologies.
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