Prominent activist Tasneem Chopra says Australian Muslim women are being terrorised as Tony Abbott verbally aligns Islamic State militants with their community.
The chairperson of the Northcote-based Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights is delivering the annual Molly Hadfield Social Justice Oration.
She is using the speech marking International Women’s Day, on March 8, to highlight social injustice towards Australia’s Muslim community.
“What you’re actually seeing is this divisive us-and-them narrative that’s been spouted by leaders where Muslims are continually put on the back foot and considered to be outsiders,” Ms Chopra said.
“Specifically the comments made by the Prime Minister that fail to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the Australian Muslim community, I find disingenuous and dishonest.
“This constant denial of the civic contribution, the historical contribution that Muslims have made to this country is whitewashed and they are constantly seen as the other, the migrant, the misfit.”
Ms Chopra said the comments were exposing Australian Muslims to attacks.
“They’re effectively putting at risk the very social harmony they’re purporting to protect,” she said. “We’ve had women in the community who have been spat on, sworn at, shoved, pushed off trains, bashed, everything [including] death threats.”
Ms Chopra said Australia’s Muslims were constantly being told to condemn terrorism, when they already were.
“The link between Muslims and terrorism is nothing to do with religion and everything to do with political ideology.”
Ms Chopra will also discuss how the disempowerment of women through power, political and economic structures is compounded with settlement, language proficiency and discrimination issues for migrant women.
She said the government has a “warped” sense of priorities in its expenditure towards fighting terrorism compared to family violence.
“Women are being assaulted and killed at an unprecedented rate,” she said.
The oration is to honour Molly Hadfield’s deep commitment to social justice. The late Thornbury resident fought for public housing, seniors and women’s rights, public education, community health and peace.
The oration is on at 6pm on Thursday, March 5, at the Preston Shire Hall.