Kāfir Pride: An examination of the recent apparent rise in Australian anti-Islamic activity and the challenges it presents for national security

Douglas Fry

Abstract


Multiple high-profile instances of anti-Islamic activity in Australia throughout 2015 – for example, the Reclaim Australia rallies in April and July, and the establishment of an anti-Islamic federal political party – is in keeping with increased Islamophobia observed in other western nations. While a key driving force behind this phenomenon is the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, ongoing jihadi violence – particularly atrocities committed by or on behalf of Islamic State –has served to reinforce anti-Islamic sentiment. Although objections to Islam are ostensibly cultural and religious, the prejudiced nature of Islamophobia essentially operates as racism. Emergent discourses about Islamic culture – for example, fears of Sharia law being imposed on western society – have positioned Muslims as an “enemy” who endanger western cultural values, and even present an existential threat. Accordingly, the risk of violence from anti-Islamic elements is not insignificant. To that end, this paper examines the range of security issues arising from Australian Islamophobic activity in two parts. First, it provides historical and cultural context for contemporary Islamophobia, noting the parallels and overlap with similar movements in the West. The primary themes promoted by anti-Islamic groups, and the manner by which they interact with audiences, are also analysed, noting the heavy emphasis on online communication, and how this translates to offline activities. Second, it will examine the types of potential or actual security risks that anti-Islamic activity presents to Australian authorities, describing a spectrum of increasing intensity that incorporates communication, physical violence, radicalisation and terrorism.


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References


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