The inability of the Trump Administration to denounce the rise of white supremacy, so clearly illustrated by the swastika and Confederate flagged neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville, served to shock the civilized world. 

The extreme right appears to be moving into the mainstream of American politics. Then we were presented with a contradiction by the Secretary of State.

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2016  – published by the US Department of State – criticised One Nation’s federal election campaign.  [https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2016/eap/268714.htm]

“Four senators from the One Nation Party were elected during the July federal elections on a platform which included ceasing Muslim immigration, holding a royal commission on Islam, halting construction of mosques, installing surveillance cameras in mosques, banning wearing of the burqa and niqab in public places, and prohibiting members of parliament from being sworn in under the Quran. In her first senate speech, One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson said the country was “in danger of being swamped by Muslims.”

The Sydney Morning Herald opened its article on the Report: “The Trump administration has listed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party as a threat to religious freedom…” [16 August 2017].

Unfortunately for her, such freedom is protected by our constitution.

The response of the judiciary to the Bendigo Mosque campaign received a positive mention but the Casey Council got a guernsey for intolerance.

“In April the local council blocked approval for the building of a mosque in southeast Melbourne amid opposition from nationalist groups and local residents. The local government said the mosque should not be built due to its size and because it would not fit in with the local landscape, but critics said the decision represented community and nationalist backlash against Muslims.”

State and commonwealth governments came out rather well in the Report.

“The Australian Multicultural Council continued to provide guidance to the government on multicultural affairs policy and programs. The government’s national multicultural policy, The People of Australia, was based on a government-wide approach to maintaining social cohesion and included religious tolerance as a component. The government provided a range of youth-focused early intervention, outreach, and education programs to promote religious tolerance as well as “deradicalization” programs for prison inmates convicted of terrorism-related offenses.”

Society’s responses were assessed as rather mixed.

The Report shows that it is important to keep recording events. “Over 300 incidents were reported in the first 12 months of the Islamophobia Register Australia, which was founded in September 2014 as an online resource for victims and witnesses of anti-Muslim attacks.

The register was designed to provide a means to report and record incidents of anti-Muslim sentiment to inform the media and public. The figures represented an average of 5.4 incidents per week. A spokesman for the Melbourne Islamic Community stated the register showed an increase in the frequency of anti-Muslim attacks.”

Interfaith initiatives and the mosque open days were also positively mentioned in the Report.