How Debates About Legitimacy and Technical Standards Can Mask Islamophobia

I stumbled upon an article today about an incident from Australia where “a community centre which also facilitated Muslim prayers” was denied a planning permit. The post in its entirety can be read here, but the following quotes from the article caught my attention:

What hurt most was the open vindictiveness displayed by objector neighbours who were passionately against having this centre in their backyard.

At times the objections bordered on hysteria, I still have them in my file – “these Muslims celebrate something called Ramadan where they slaughter animals on site”, “I am followed by Muslims who want to steal my credit card details” And then there is the hysteria that connects extremism around the world with the establishment of an Islamic centre. That somehow if an Islamic centre were established it would produce a wave of extremists that would destroy the community. This is the sort of hysteria thrown up with attempts to establish Islamic centres in Camden, Perth and more recently in Doveton and Monash. (…) Sadly what does hold sway are incidences of double parking, blocking of driveways, and excessive noise. That is sad and indefensible. (…) And yet it is easily reversible by exemplary behaviour stemming from humility and sincere concern for the plight of God’s Creations – people and the environment. “

Though I respect the sentiment, and do agree with the point that faith centres should think about how they are helping the greater whole, there are two issues here that require a closer look.

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