Over the last few months, several reports have indicated a significant number of Australians hold anti-Muslim attitudes. In September 2016, The Australian newspaper reported an Essential poll showing 49% of people surveyed were in favour of a ban against Muslims entering Australia – compared to 40% opposed.
More recently, another Essential poll found 41% of those surveyed supported a Donald-Trump-style ban on people from Muslim countries entering Australia. Another 46% opposed a ban and 14% didn’t know.
Meanwhile, a Newspoll found 44% of respondents believed Australia should take similar measures to Trump’s executive order while 45% opposed doing so. Add this to the increasing support for the anti-Muslim One Nation and it’s no wonder some Muslims may feel unwelcome in Australia.
Anti-Muslim and anti-Islam attitudes displayed in these surveys are largely the result of increasing migration from Muslim-majority countries and fear of terrorism. All this has given rise to a new field of study relating to Islamophobia. Research in the US and Europe shows Islamophobia is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, which is not captured in single-item surveys.
For instance, another recent survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US found Australians welcomed diversity as much as Americans, despite some uncertainty over Muslim integration.
In a survey conducted in late 2015 and early 2016, we used a battery of questions to ascertain Australians’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. It is the first study that explored the multidimensionality of Islamophobia in Australia.
The resulting nuanced and comprehensive profile of Islamophobia in Australia actually showed few Australians are truly afraid of those of Muslim faith (Muslim Village)