A national survey conducted on behalf of the Australian Government has found that Muslims are the most fearful section of the Australian community.
The survey, part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Safeguarding Australia grant, showed that Australian Muslims, who make up just 1.5 per cent of the Australian population, are “afraid of being in the city, in their neighbourhood, or in any public place, particularly after 9/11.”
According, Professor Mark Balnaves, Chair of New Media at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and a member of the research team, ‚Äúone consequence of this fear has been for Muslim communities to lose trust in local Australian media, turning towards alternative media, such as Al Manar.‚Äù
The survey was developed to help the Australian Government develop policies to assist communities that are in fear and interviewed 750 participants in urban, regional and rural areas of Australia.
“People need to feel safe if we are to have a healthy society. Australians, generally, and perhaps not surprisingly, are feeling far less safe after 9/11,” Professor Balnaves said.
As part of the survey researchers developed a “fear scale” to measure the effect of fear on behaviour with a score of 90 meaning people would not leave the house.
The average score for the population was 21, but the Muslim community scored well over 40.
According to the results of the survey 67.2 per cent of the Muslim community felt they where negatively portrayed by the Australian media, compared to only 19 per cent of the broader community.
According to Professor Balnaves, people must be wary of the power that fear has over them. “Fear can be important in motivating us to protect ourselves, but it can also lead to social isolation and psychological damage.”
The results were released as part of National Science Week running in Canberra.
¬© John Le Fevre, 2007
He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post
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