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 to Professor Mark Balnaves, Chair of New Media at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and a member of the research team, one consequence of this fear has been for Muslim communities to lose trust in local Australian media, turning towards alternative media, such as Al Manar.
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.
Feature photo Mohamad Hisyam Mohamad Saman
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
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