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"He tried to burn off her hijab." Today, this is the ugly reality for thousands of Australians.

muslim women in australia
A woman wearing a burqa talks on a mobile phone in Sydney. (Photo: Tosten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)

Update:

A Muslim prayer centre in Brisbane’s south has been vandalised with anti-Islam graffiti.

The words “die” and “Muslims are evil and have no respect for our ways” werepainted on the Indonesian community mosque in Rocklea, The Brisbane Times reports.

“Get the f*** out of our country” was also sprayed on the mosque walls.

A cross accompanied the graffiti.

The vandalism was reported to police about 7pm on Wednesday.

Inspector Rob Graham told 612 ABC Brisbane police were confident of finding the vandals. 

(Screenshot via Channel Nine's Today show.)
(Screenshot via Channel Nine’s Today show.)
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“There [were] a number of pieces of evidence … located in the near vicinity,” he said. “Fingerprints and touch DNA are certainly going to shed some light and also this is a place where there is a high volume of CCTV activity and we’re very optimistic we’ll be able to determine who committed this offence in the near future.”

Previously, Mamamia wrote…

By GRACE JENNINGS-EDQUIST

Today, all of Australia is feeling uneasy.

Revelations of a beheading plot in Sydney, allegedly orchestrated by a senior Islamic State leader, has left many Australians fearful about their safety.

But one group is particularly terrified of the horrifying news dominating headline after headline: moderate Muslim men and women.

They know the barbaric acts of the IS are not representative of their faith. They know the IS is not only targeting Westerners, but a range of religious minority groups, as well as Shi’a Muslims and even some Sunni Muslims.

They also know all too well that, whenever the actions of a radicalised few make front-page news, xenophobes are whipped into a frenzy — and they direct their hate toward peace-loving Muslims.

So frightened are some in Australia’s Muslim community that a Facebook group dedicated to support for victims of hate crimes against Muslims was set up this week. Group members use the page to report instances of abuse and swap tips on how to stay safe. Posts like these feature on the page:

“Early last week in the early evening A sister (was walking home) when a few guys came upon her and tried to burn off her hijab… She was a international student and is now wanting to go back home due to feeling traumatised and insecure.”

“Two days ago, a group of men tried to rip the hijab off a sisters head at Garden City.”

“Yesterday at 5pm, a sister from Logan was threatened by a guy that he would burn her house down.”

Mamamia spoke to Australian Muslim mother-of-four Dania Sibai. She told us,  “I am worried about what is going to happen to the Muslims who really are law-abiding citizens of the community.”

Today’s news has me terrified,” Ms Sibai said. “Every time a terrorist does something in the name of Islam, my reaction is true sadness that this is the sort of media attention my religion is getting; then it turns into anger and I think these people make life so hard for those of us that are just trying to do the right thing.”  

muslim women in australia
A post on a Facebook page formed to provide support to Muslim victims of abuse.
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She told Mamamia after the London bombings she was told by passers-by to remove her hijab.

“I had my car spat on while waiting at a light, and I had people hurl abuse at me,” she said.

“Then when the Cronulla riots occurred I got called a terrorist and told to go back home. I was called a bloody Muslim, I had a guy hang out his window swearing at me while we were at the lights and my then four-year-old got so scared he started to cry.”

“After IS beheaded the journalist I actually looked at my dad and said, ‘how many times are we going to say “this is not Islam and we are mortified just like everyone else”? I don’t think people will believe us anymore.'”

Ms Sibai also said she had struggled to explain the news reports to her family.

“It saddens me that I had to talk to my children about what was happening yesterday — not because they asked or saw anything, but from the fear that someone might say something to them at school,” she said.

“My 12-year-old was mortified; his first concern was how these people think it’s okay to kill people when our religion is not about that,” she said. “His dream is to join the Australian Army when he gets older and his response was: ‘if these people are still around when I get into the army I hope I am deployed to help get rid of them.'”

Another Mamamia reader said yesterday it was Muslim women suffering the worst.
“From a Muslim woman’s perspective we are the ones who are the 99/100 times targeted,” one Mamamia reader said yesterday. “It is restricting our movements.”

She added that “some are scared” within her community.

Here’s another post from the Facebook page:

“I was walking and a middle-aged white man started screaming at me… I carried on walking he shouted louder ‘you in the black tent… I told you that your prophet Muhammad’s a pig. What are you going to do or say?'”

Members are also using the page to swap tips on how to stay safe or report abuse when it occurs.

“Be wise and don’t put yourself in a situation where you will feel vulnerable.” 

“It is lawful for you to defend your wives and sisters should some idiot try to pull their hijab off. Defend them within reason and proportion. Do not take the law into your own hands. Make an assault complaint and tell police to request the CCTV footage.”

For Ms Sabai, who told Mamamia she had been abused “ever since” she started wearing her hijab in 2005, the future is uncertain.

“I know people keep saying the Muslim community needs to come out and say something, but I actually think most of us are scared,” she said.

“I do not preach to anyone and I treat people the same way I like to be treated. I wish some people would do the same for me.”

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