How Australian Muslims Construct Western Fear of the Muslim Other
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : DP0559707
In September 2009 the authors presented a chapter at a collaborative research forum focused upon exploring the cultural roles of Strangers, Aliens and Foreigners. That chapter, published elsewhere, [ suggested that Australian Muslims were a community in fear: more used to feeling fearful than to making others feel afraid. Members of Muslim communities found it difficult to identifY with western fears of Muslims. The fears felt by Australian Muslims are partly fuelled b y media representations of Muslinl communities which strengthen stereotypes and gloss over the diversity of etbnicities, backgrounds and religious practice among Muslints in Australia. Given the range of ways in which Islam is observed, western representations of the Muslint other are based on a construction of Islam as an artificially unified religious 'other' against which the mainstream majority positions itself, as an artificially unified western 'self. Building upon our previous research this chapter responds to ideas explained in this volume and interrogates the original research data for indications as to how the Anstralian Muslim minority construct the fear of the Muslim other they experience from the Australian majority. Given the research demonstrated differences in how Australian Muslims respond to media coverage of 'fear' and 'terror', compared with the responses of broader community Australians, how do Australian Muslims construct the intentions and beliefs of those people and media institutions that circulate mainstream media messages?