Hijab Wearing Women Main Target of Islamophobia Attacks in Australia

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A new research revealed that Muslim women in Australia are bearing the brunt of Islamophobia as they are often targeted in public with their children.

A study released by Charles Sturt University on Monday analyzed 243 verified reports to the online Islamophobia Register of Australia from September 2014 to December 2015, Al Waght reported.

Islamophobia was defined as a type of racism that included “various forms of violence, violations, discrimination and subordination” and went beyond mere criticism, the authors said.

The report found of 130 cases where the victim’s gender was reported, women were targets in 88, men in 27 and both genders in 15.

“Visibility is a big factor,” the report’s editor, Islamic Studies lecturer Derya Iner, said. “In 79.6 per cent of cases targeting women they were wearing Islamic headscarves.”

Women’s gender, as well as their religion, often formed the focus of reported attacks. 

In 170 cases, abusers targeted the victim’s honor with terms such as “whore” and “bitch”. In contrast, only 74 cases referenced terrorism.

Dr Iner said it showed hostility toward Muslims went beyond apprehensions of violence, even as reports of Islamophobia tended to peak after terrorist attacks such as the Lindt cafe siege.

Almost half the recorded “offline” attacks occurred in crowded public places such as train stations, schools and shopping centers.

In one case, a woman reported walking with her head down when she was confronted by a group of men.

However, another recent study suggested Australians were less Islamophobic than they were sometimes led to believe.

Flinders University emeritus professor Riaz Hassan wrote in The Conversation that “while there are pockets of antipathy towards Muslims, an overwhelming majority of Australians don’t share that antipathy”.

Professor Hassan said a survey conducted in 2015 and 2016 found 70 per cent of Australians had “very low” levels of Islamophobia and less than 10 per cent had “very high” levels.

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