Five Questions on Islamophobia in Australia

September 5, 2023

In Episode 7 of “Unpacking Islamophobia,” our guest is Professor Susan Carland, an Australian Muslim academic and television presenter who specializes on a wide array of topics, including issues related to women in Islam. Since Islamophobia manifests in different parts of the world in different ways, Professor Carland provides insight into how Islamophobia has shown up in Australia for the last several decades.

Professor Carland provides historical context on modern Australian Islamophobia by noting when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, the Australian national political debate was focused on Afghan asylum seekers. “In the Australian imagination, asylum seekers and Muslims and ‘terrorists’ were always conflated,” she notes.

Dr. Carland offers further historical context by explaining that when Australia “federated” as a nation in 1901, it instituted the “white Australia” policy, which included legislating “dictation tests” for those wanting to immigrate to the country meaning they had to prove they could speak English properly. Many decades later, this led to the “One Australia” policy which became the immigration and ethnic affairs policy of the Liberal-National Opposition, released in 1988. The One Australia policy proclaimed a vision of “one nation and one future” and called for an end to multiculturalism and opposed a treaty with native Aboriginal Australians.

Professor Carland finally highlights the 2019 Christchurch massacre in neighboring New Zealand and states that it had a significant impact on millions of Australian Muslims today. “Attitudes towards Muslims are pretty negative throughout Australia. We are a small percentage of the population, so most people have never met a Muslim before,” Dr. Carland concludes. “One decade-long study found that fifty percent (50%) of Australians self-identify as having anti-Muslim attitudes.” She ends by acknowledging that there are “no silver bullets to solving Islamophobia” but hopes that this broad net of different approaches from diverse Muslim communities around the world will help to combat Islamophobia within the contexts of their respective societies.



Dr. Susan Carland is an Australian academic, author and television presenter best known for her ongoing media presence speaking on her academic speciality of women in Islam. Her writing has appeared in local and international newspapers, academic journals and books, magazines, websites, and anthologies across the globe. She is also the host of the podcast “What Happens Next?” and she has presented her research to the United Nations in Geneva and once featured on the “20 Most Influential Australian Female Voices” list from The Age newspaper.

Arsalan Iftikhar is Senior Researcher for the Bridge Initiative at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. He is a prominent human rights lawyer, an internationally recognized researcher on the topic of Islamophobia, and a global media commentator. He is the author of several books including FEAR OF A MUSLIM PLANET: Global Islamophobia in the New World Order and Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms which President Jimmy Carter called “an important book that shows Islamophobia must be addressed urgently”. Throughout his career, Arsalan has been a regular on-air commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) and his interviews have appeared on prominent global media outlets like CNN, Al-Jazeera English, BBC World News, The Economist, New York Times, Rolling Stone, NBC News “Meet The Press” & many more. A native of Chicago, Arsalan was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis; where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees.