Fast growth in Mus­lim com­mu­nity

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - JES­SICA HOWARD

TAS­MA­NIA’S Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion is one of the fastest grow­ing re­li­gious groups — so much so that Ho­bart’s only mosque is burst­ing at the seams.

The lat­est Cen­sus data in 2016 found there were 2500 Mus­lims liv­ing in Tas­ma­nia — an in­crease of 45 per cent in five years.

This was well above the na­tional in­crease of 27 per cent.

Pres­i­dent of the Tas­ma­nian Mus­lim As­so­ci­a­tion – the state’s head Is­lamic coun­cil – Kazi Sab­bir said num­bers had con­tin­ued to grow con­sid­er­ably in the last three years and pre­dicted there were now around 4000 Mus­lims in Ho­bart alone.

He said the uni­ver­sity was a big draw­card and the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing the grow­ing Is­lamic com­mu­nity was find­ing ad­e­quate space for them to wor­ship with only one mosque in Ho­bart.

“To ac­com­mo­date the big in­creased num­ber at the mosque is dif­fi­cult,” Mr Sab­bir said.

“We’ve had to di­vide it into two ses­sions be­cause we can’t fit them all in in one ses­sion. We’re still see­ing that that is not enough.”

Mr Sab­bir said the com­mu­nity had re­cently had to ex­pand to use the Moonah Mul­ti­cul­tural Hub for prayer on Fri­days to ac­com­mo­date more wor­ship­pers.

Last week­end, the as­so­ci­a­tion held its first open day at the West Ho­bart mosque, which was well at­tended – in­clud­ing a visit from Premier Will Hodg­man for the first time – Mr Sab­bir said.

“In Tas­ma­nia, peo­ple are gen­er­ally very wel­com­ing and re­spect­ful,” he said. “There are only a few ex­cep­tions in some ar­eas for women who wear the hijab or niqab — they some­times get abu­sive words (said to them) or men who are iden­ti­fi­ably Mus­lim, but they’re very ex­cep­tional cases.”

The num­ber of Tas­ma­ni­ans prac­tis­ing Hin­duism has also grown con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years.

Be­tween 2011 and 2016, the Hindu pop­u­la­tion grew by 58 per cent in Tas­ma­nia and by 60 per cent na­tion­ally. In the same pe­riod, the num­ber of peo­ple born in In­dia – where the vast ma­jor­ity of the world’s Hin­dus are from – liv­ing in the state grew by 35 per cent

The num­ber of peo­ple who iden­ti­fied as prac­tis­ing no re­li­gion con­tin­ues to grow and ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion both na­tion­ally and in Tas­ma­nia.

The num­ber of athe­ists in Tas­ma­nia grew by 37 per cent to just over 195,000 in 2016.

The big­gest mi­grant pop­u­la­tion growth con­tin­ues to be Chi­nese.

The lat­est statis­tics also showed Tas­ma­nia ex­pe­ri­enced a drop of 12 per cent in the num­ber of Ital­ian mi­grants re­sid­ing in the state.

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