Col­lege wary of back­lash

MAN­AG­ING ANTI-MUS­LIM SEN­TI­MENT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page - Jaime Shurmer

AUS­TRALIAN Is­lamic Col­lege prin­ci­pal Nas­reen Ahmed is call­ing for tol­er­ance and un­der­stand­ing as re­ports emerge of ver­bal abuse to­wards women wear­ing the hi­jab.

Sadly, lo­cal Mus­lim res­i­dents are among the vic­tims of ris­ing in­ter­na­tional ten­sions.

WA Po­lice will meet stu­dents at the Kew­dale­based col­lege this month to pro­vide safety tips and have of­fered to in­crease pa­trols if re­quired.

Col­lege prin­ci­pal Nas­reen Ahmed now drives a dif­fer­ent car to work after be­ing ver­bally abused two weeks ago by a man in the car be­hind her at a set of traf­fic lights.

The stranger used of­fen­sive lan­guage in relation to mem­bers of the Mus­lim faith and told her to go back to her coun­try.

Mrs Ahmed has lived in Aus­tralia for 24 years, her chil­dren are Aus­tralian- born, and she said the in­ci­dent was “fright­en­ing”.

“I did not re­ply know­ing and un­der­stand­ing that there are maybe a few peo­ple like him who have no idea about what Is­lam re­ally is,” she said.

The car she was driv­ing that day had per­son­alised num­ber plates with her first name and Mrs Ahmed be­lieved this may have caused the driver to iden­tify her as Mus­lim and re­act.

The col­lege’s 1200 stu­dents are ad­vised to take care on so­cial me­dia and not re­act to in­flam­ma­tory com­ments. She said to date there had not been any re­ports of ha­rass­ment to­wards stu­dents, but some women had been tar­gets of ver­bal abuse.

She felt the State Gov­ern­ment and po­lice were sup­port­ing the school well.

“All peo­ple should stand to­gether. We are all Aus­tralian,” she said.

Mus­lim lead­ers, in­clud­ing those from River­vale’s Is­lamic Coun­cil of WA, met Premier Colin Bar­nett and Mul­ti­cul­tural Af­fairs Min­is­ter Mike Na­han last Tues­day to raise sim­i­lar con­cerns.

“Aus­tralia as a coun­try has a his­tory of re­spect­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures and faiths and I made it clear this type of be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able to most West Aus­tralians,” Mr Bar­nett said.

Bel­mont MLA Glenys Godfrey also at­tended a school assem­bly on Septem­ber 25 to ex­press gov­ern­ment support and East Met­ro­pol­i­tan MLC Sa­man­tha Rowe vis­ited the school to talk with the prin­ci­pal.

The ICWA en­cour­ages mem­bers on its web­site to re­port re­li­gious or racially mo­ti­vated hate crime to po­lice on 131 444.

Bel­mont po­lice of­fi­cerin-charge Se­nior Sergeant Peter Arancini said he was not aware of any re­ports of racially-mo­ti­vated harm, graf­fiti or van­dal­ism.

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