Forum Eases Concerns about Muslims

March 5, 2007


Source: The Age

A national forum in Canberra at the weekend has kickstarted a conversation on the Muslim-non-Muslim divide in Australia, organisers said.

Issues Deliberation Australia, a public, non-profit body brought together 329 Australians representing a statistical snapshot of adults, including 40 Muslims from focus groups. Managing director Pam Ryan said 1400 people were surveyed, then 329 brought to Canberra for three days. A survey before the conference revealed their attitudes to Muslims, and they were surveyed again yesterday afternoon. Fear of Muslims dropped by more than half between the surveys.

The number of Australians who thought Muslim migrants made Australia a worse place dropped from 28 per cent to 7 per cent. Those who thought incompatibility between Islam and democracy was a big contributor to terrorism dropped from 49 per cent to 22 per cent, and the number who thought Muslims were a threat to the Australian way of life dropped from 35 per cent to 21 per cent. A full analysis is due out in July.

The forum heard progressive, conservative and extreme Muslim leaders, academics, psychologists, terrorism experts, media, interfaith experts and politicians.