A UNITY PICNIC organised by the WA Greens has been staged in Hyde Park to combat a rise in racism.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert says; “there’s been quite a lot of negative talk about multiculturalism, and hate speech, and so we thought it was an opportunity to show we are a strong multicultural community, to show how faiths do work together and come together.
“Particularly from the Muslim community we’ve had quite a lot of feedback about them getting negative responses, people being rude in the street.
“[Muslim] people are feeling quite disappointed, but also some are feeling intimidated.”
She said during this year’s federal election a car outside a mosque in the southern suburbs was firebombed, the building was targeted with graffiti and there was a report about a pig’s head being left at the front door.
“Our candidate Muhammad [Salman]… was telling me about how women wearing the hijab when they’re out walking their kids in prams will frequently get yelled at, abused, and this is when all they’re doing it taking their kids for a walk along the streets.
Perth Mosque imam Mohammed Shakeeb says many in his community are “wary of what’s going on”.
He says the recent waves of anti-Muslim sentiment have been more severe: “I’ve been here since the 70s, I grew up here… I don’t think they had any bad, negative fear about Muslims back then.
“I was chatting with a friend today, he’s a mechanic, he was telling me of an incident where his cousin went to a footy game. It was an Eagles game, and he brough this wife with him. After the Eagles won someone from the opposition supporters said ‘why don’t you guys eff off to your country’.
“Some positive news came out of that,” he says, and the couple found many supporters who spoke against the xenophobe.
He says events like the picnic are vital to combating fear.
He says the fear evaporates “when you get to know who they are”.
by DAVID BELL