Islamophobia Register Australia launches its 4th Islamophobia in Australia report

The Islamophobia Register Australia, in partnership with ISRA and CSU, launched its 4th Islamophobia in Australia report on Tuesday 21 March 2023 at the Old Parliament House in Canberra, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The ‘Report’ titled Islamophobia in Australia – IV (2014-2021) is authored by Dr Derya Iner, Associate Professor working with Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA) and Charles Sturt University (CSU).

The Report highlights the gendered nature of Islamophobia and that alarmingly, despite the prevalence of Islamophobia in public places, comprising ‘hotspots’, bystanders witnessing incidents do not appear to be intervening to support victims.

The launch event comes in the wake of  International Day To Combat Islamophobia, designated by United Nations in 2022, taking place on 15 March every year marking the anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people were killed.

“Islamophobic incidents were mostly committed by men perceived to be from Anglo/European backgrounds and from older cohorts. The victims were mostly younger hijabi women from non-White ethnic backgrounds and from vulnerable cohorts, unaccompanied or with children. These are the most significant characteristics of Islamophobia we keep seeing over the course of eight years in the reported incidents of Islamophobia in Australia,” principal researcher Dr Derya Iner said while commenting on the research findings.

She further added, ,”Incidents in guarded places continue to increase (reaching up 70% in the last reporting period). If we don’t want to keep repeating these numbers in the next 8 years, it is time to ask ourselves “What can we do to stop it?” and “How can we dismantle gender, race and age enablers reproducing Islamophobia?”

The launch attracted an impressive line-up of  speakers and panellists including the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles, the Minister for Youth and Early Childhood Education Anne Aly, Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Senator Fatima Payman, independent Federal Member for North Sydney Kylea Tink, Labour Federal Member for Reid Sally Sitou and founding Executive Director of ISRA Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp.

The event was MC’ed by the Register’s Executive Director Sharara Attai and featured a number of speeches, a panel discussion, a report campaign video which is now available for viewing on the Register’s social media pages and the launch of an innovative ‘interactive map’ which was created by the Spatial Data Analysis Network and CSU. This is a map of Australia that has a pinpoint for each Islamophobic incident reported from 2014-2021.

“I hope it lends some impact to have the Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs associate himself with this report and commit myself to working towards its significance – its significance to Muslim Australians and its significance to the entire Australian community’’, Minister Andrew Giles said at the launch.

Each of the three Muslim parliamentarians at the launch spoke of their own personal experiences of Islamophobia.

Minister Anne Aly also said, “The times that I’ve spoken out about Islamophobia I have attracted so many death threats, so much hate, so many letters.”

She also touched on the underreporting of Islamophobia saying, “The Islamophobia that is reported does not reflect the extent of Islamophobia that is experienced. Or the nature, the full nature of Islamophobia in all its forms.’’

As with the Register’s three previous reports, this report again reinforced the gendered nature of Islamophobia. Most victims were women (78%), particularly women who wear the hijab, and most perpetrators were men (70%).

The report also highlighted a concerning fall in witness reporting which dropped by about half (from 47% to 24%) since the inception of the Register (2014-15) until the start of the COVID-19 era (2020- 21).

Deputy Leader of the Greens, Senator Mehreen Faruqi thanked victims of Islamophobia who reported their experiences saying, “We are often gaslighted about whether or not these things are really happening to us, and that we might even provoke them, and it takes real bravery to speak out.”

In attendance at the event were a number of distinguished guests including Ridwaan Jadwat, First Assistant Secretary, Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the heads of various organisations and Australia’s first Muslim Navy Captain Mona Shindy.

The event was live-streamed on the Register’s Instagram and Facebook pages and the recorded live-stream can still be viewed on those pages.

The Islamophobia Register Australia is the leading organisation tracking and tackling Islamophobia in Australia. It offers a platform for reporting incidents of Islamophobia, publishes academic reports based on the data collected, and also provides victim support services to victims of Islamophobia.

The Register’s reports, which are a first of their kind in Australia, have been cited widely and have helped to bridge a unique gap in terms of research in this under-resourced area.

The Register recently appointed human rights lawyer Sharara Attai as Executive Director and expanded its board of directors to include Founding Chair Mariam Veiszadeh, Deputy Dr Derya Iner, Dr Susan Carland, Naima Ibrahim, Hilal Yassine, Dr Nora Amath, Mobinah Ahmad, Basim Al Ansari, Silma Ihram, Safiah Rind and Diana Sayed.