Gee, I wonder why? NOT. Muslim women in Australia have reported an increase in discrimination and abuse in the wake of counter-terrorism raids in major Australian cities and the raising of the national terror alert to “high.”
Women who wear traditional Islamic headscarfs have been the targets of numerous hate attacks. Fears of Islamic extremism have led to debate about Islamic full-body veils, such as burkas, with Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Palmer United Senator Jacqui Lambie among those calling for bans, and new rules at Parliament House prohibiting the clothing from certain areas.
The ABC spoke to five Muslim women on the streets of Sydney about what they choose to wear and their experiences in the current political and social climate.
Manaya Chaouk, 27, social worker and mother, Guildford
“What happened to freedom of expression? Freedom of religion? We’re already a target. Now the Prime Minister is helping the bigots and bogans take their anger out on us. He’s trying to instill fear in people. (Nope, you muslims do a very good job of terrorizing people all on your own) People look [at] me the wrong way. They say silly things. I’ve heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of stories. For any woman to be attacked, that’s not right. There’s still a lot of racism. (What ‘race’ is Islam?) Now the bigots have come out of hiding. I’m afraid now, I’m looking over my shoulder whenever I leave my local area. That’s wrong. I shouldn’t feel like that. No-one should feel like that.” (You’re right, and I hear there are planes leaving Australia for muslim-friendly countries every single day of the week)
Randa Jada, 32, accountant and mother, Granville
“I was born here. (Then you should dress like it) Now that all this is happening, I’ve been getting a lot of dirty looks. I find it very concerning. They’re ignorant. (No, they are finally getting educated about the threat you muslims pose to Australians) What’s their reason to hate us? (See above) No-one sits next to me anymore, people move their kids away from my kids, people don’t communicate as much. It’s sad.” (Hardly. We’ve all heard about what muslims do with little children. Do you want a list?)
Name Withheld, 33, mother and former secretary, Auburn
“I wear [the niqab] because I love it. I do this to please Allah [God]. It’s my choice. I’ve been wearing it for one and a half years now. The Prime Minister has to be very careful what he says. (That sounds like a threat to Tony Abbott. I’m reporting you) It’s very divisive. It’s all fear-mongering. He’s ruining any chance of bringing the Muslim community and wider community together. (He’s trying to decrease the muslim community or can’t see that? Remember the boats?) Why do we get prosecuted for wearing this? We’re productive citizens of Australia. (Only if you consider sucking the government welfare teat to be ‘productive’) For any woman who is attacked, it’s disgusting. Veil or no veil. Muslim or non-Muslim.” (“Attack” is relative. Verbal attacks by Aussies? Or Islamic beheadings by muslims? Let’s take a vote)
Maryam Ali, 56, grandmother of eight, Berala
“Everybody has got a choice. It shouldn’t be a problem what others choose to wear. I have been discriminated [against] because of my head covering. Australian culture is accepting. Let’s respect that.” (Even ‘tolerant’ Aussies can be pushed to their limit. You have exceeded that)
Hayfa Bakour, 17, student, Greenacre