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Islamophobia in Australia Report III

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15 March 2022


The Islamophobia in Australia report, released today by the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation at Charles Sturt University,  shows the compelling need for law reform by the Australian and NSW Governments.

The report analyses data of verified hate incidents from the 2018-19 period, including the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre.

It shows how a commonly perceived ‘association with terrorism’ increasingly underlied hate incidents.

AMAN contributed a case study in the report on the conflation of Muslim identity with terrorism and its connection with Racist Nationalism.

Three years ago on this day, an Australian opened fire on two New Zealand mosques, murdering 51 men, women, and children.

Yet just in the last few months, the Australian and NSW Governments inexplicably voted down laws to ban actors from inciting hatred against  people based on their religion. Members of the LNP support this necessary change but they are yet to fully discuss this as a party. The Attorney Generals of both Governments must bring this matter forward.

The fact is, Australia’s current legal framework creates an environment of impunity for hate actors and even contributes to Islamophobia.

We must consider structural change within terrorism law.  The Australian Government must avoid endorsing and amplifying violent extremist framing of Islam relied on by ISIL and racist nationalists to invoke a violent sense of duty amongst their members.

The role of religious texts in extremist movements can and should be discussed but ‘religious cause’ should only be in the law if it serves a clear purpose and is in the public interest.

AMAN suggests:

  1. Religious vilification and discrimination laws nationally and in NSW.
  2. The inclusion of hate speech and disinformation within the online safety framework. AMAN has proposed civil penalties using a notice and action model for dehumanising speech or discourse.
  3. The introduction of effective hate crime laws around Australia.
  4. The removal of ‘religious cause’ from the terrorism law definition. ISIL and other self-declared Islamist organisations can be monitored under political or ideological cause categories.
  5. National definitions for dehumanising speech and discourse enabling hate-fuelled, terroristic, or genocidal violence.
  6. The creation of a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to laws, policies, or political speech that contributes to dehumanising discourse about a group based on a protected attribute (eg, race, religion, asylum seeker status) (“Anti-dehumanisation standard”).

AMAN has been at the forefront of advocacy, bringing a successful action against former Senator Fraser Anning, sponsoring vital research and making numerous recommendations to governments, parliaments, industry, and international bodies.

AMAN also actively contributes to the Christchurch Call Advisory Network and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism Legal Frameworks Working Group.