A Sydney University Is Being Targeted With Islamophobic Posters
It's the latest in a series of Islamophobic incidents at the university.
Students at Sydney University are calling for action after a poster linking halal certification to Islamic terrorism appeared on campus. The poster was pasted on top of a sign promoting an anti-Pauline Hanson event on campus. It’s the latest in a series of Islamophobic incidents at the university this year.
A coalition of student groups at the university are hosting a “Halal not Hanson” event next week. The halal barbecue event is being held to protest Pauline Hanson’s policies and statements on halal certification. Students have been sticking up posters around the university to promote the event.
Yesterday morning a student walking past one of the posters noticed that it had been covered with smaller sign, linking halal certification to terrorism. The sign read “When you buy halal you are paying a religious tax to support Islamic terrorism”. Pauline Hanson has previously alleged that the money from halal certification programs funds Islamist organisations overseas. A senate inquiry established by Cory Bernardi found that there was no link between halal certification and terrorism.
But that hasn’t stopped some people from perpetuating the myth, as the poster at Sydney University shows. Georgia Mantle, a gender studies student who posted a photo of the poster on Facebook, told Junkee that students had no idea who had stuck the poster up .”Which is super worrying because it could be anyone,” she said.
“There is absolutely an issue with racism on campus and if anyone says any different they are kidding themselves,” Mantle, a former Indigenous Officer at the university’s Student Representative Council, said. “We only need to look at the trashing of the Muslim prayer rooms earlier this year and the continual racist graffiti.”
In February the Muslim prayer room at Sydney University was trashed and anti-Islamic flyers were left behind. It was the fifth time in three months the room had been attacked by vandals.
Fatema Ali, a Muslim student at the university, told Junkee that she had become “desensitised” to these kinds of incidents. “I look at these kinds of things and think ‘Oh, I wonder what next’,” Ali said. “You realise how bad a point our society has reached.”
According to Ali, Islamophobia had become worse in recent years. “Whe I first studying here there was not much Islamophobia. Towards the end of my first year people started abusing Muslims on campus. Two of my friends came to me in tears after being confronted because of their headscarves,” she said. She thinks that the rise of politicians like Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson has been making things worse.
Mantle told Junkee that she believes the university has a responsibility to “Start publicly denouncing what is happening and really show that they are a university that doesn’t stand for racism in any form.”
In a statement provided to Junkee, Sydney University said “The University is aware of these posters and has removed those located. Reports of these incidents are or of concern to the University. Universities must be a place where everybody is free to discuss ideas and where students have confidence people will engage in debate about their ideas, but never in behaviour that’s denigrating of them personally or makes them feel unsafe.”
Ali said that it was important for the wider community to denounce racism. “Even if we know these things are happening it’s comforting to know that a wider community is out there opposing them,” she said. “Even little things like halal snack packs, where we all unite around food and talk to each other, are places where we can confront prejudice and deal with it.”