Racism in Australia

September 21, 2001

Muslim students at universities in Australia are facing a surge in racist abuse following the terrorist attacks in America.

Islamic communities have been attacked and mosques firebombed and smeared with faeces. School students have been stoned, women in Middle Eastern clothing harassed and hate-mail sent to Islamic organisations.

About a third of the more than 100,000 foreign students enrolled in Australian universities are from Arab-speaking or Muslim countries. A significant number of Australian students are also from Muslim families.

John Mullarvey, chief executive of the Australian Vice-chancellors' Committee, said it condemned all abuse. "Anyone racially vilifying a person clearly does not belong in a university and, if found out, runs the very strong risk of being expelled."

National Union of Students president David Henderson called on branches to act swiftly if they saw students being abused.

  • Australian students have been urged to abandon planned protests at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane because of security fears.

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