In this weeks class there was a lot of focus on how Muslims are represented in Australia and what it means to be Australian in regards to the treatment of Muslims in public. For me (in regards to the videos watched where “Australians” were seen sticking up for Muslims being targeted by Islamophobes in public), standing up for someone – in this case a targeted Muslim – does not make one Australian, it’s a natural human response. This also further brings to question what exactly it means to be Australian? If we were to judge by what was seen in the videos, one would think that to be Australian would mean being heroically white – inarguably a very questionable point.
However, what surprised me was that there was no mention of the change of relationships between muslim and non-muslim people, especially after several global responses over the last few months. It seems that since 9/11, the media has got the world in a tangle in regards to muslim-hate, derived from terror attacks world-wide. We haven’t been led to realise that the Islamist’s performing these attacks are part of a very minor group (I doubt that there was a lot of Christian-hate during the KKK movements in the 1800’s – although I do think that reasoning for lack of fear in comparison to recent Islamophobia is due to the differences in what media sources were available during each time). Instead, the media have taken the angle that all Muslim’s are bad, in some cases it’s been so extreme that different areas now have Burqa bans – which is taking the Muslim-hate issue to an stand-point well beyond discrimination. Although, the last couple of years have seen a change in how Muslim’s have been represented. The world finally caught on to the media representations and people started forming their own thoughts. Which has got us to the point of unity that we are at now. The first occasion being that of the overwhelming response to the Sydney Siege, where the hashtag #illridewithyou became viral and saw Muslims and non-Muslims alike band together as one. Another occasion where the world showed global unity was at the freedom march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. A particular moment that stood out for me whilst I watched the march on TV was when a Pakistani and Israeli man were standing next to each other, noticed one another – two strangers – and embraced. Proving to everyone that there is no hatred, we are standing up to those who are trying to create a separation.
While what we studied in class demonstrated this to a degree, it was limited in that it only showed reactions to bullying in a public place, and highlighted how to react in an ‘Australian’ manner. When in fact terrorism is a global problem, not just local to Australia. And how people respond isn’t a contributing factor to one’s national identity; responding to threatening behaviour (whether it be standing up for someone in public or a city rallying together) in regards to race is a global response, which demonstrates unity and anti-discrimination in practice.