INDIAN MUSLIM RESPONSES TO ISLAMOPHOBIA IN AUSTRALIAN CITIES: CONFLICTS OVER MOSQUES
There has been increased tension in Australian cities over the past decade over plans to construct mosques in a context where Islam appear to be less accepted as a component of Australian religious and cultural society at a time when the Muslim population has increased as a result of migration from various countries in Southern Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. Explicit opposition to mosque construction, threats to desecrate sacred spaces, and anti-Muslim bias in the media and amongst politicians has intensified in the aftermath of 9/11. Little research has been carried out into the effects of urban planning policy and practice upon minority religious groups in Australia. Local councillors and residents seem reluctant to allow mosques to be builtin their neighbourhoods, and representatives of Muslim organisations are having to work hard to establish sound relations with local authorities. This paper, focusing primarily on Indian Muslim migrants from Southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) addresses several key questions: What role do mosques play in the lives of Muslims? How do local communities perceive mosques and Muslims, and why? What is the basis of vehement opposition to mosques?How are these Muslim migrants articulating their needs with the characteristics of their local and national environment? Are objections of mosque construction a manifestation of Islamophobia? How are Muslims coping in situations where they are not permitted to build mosques?