A LAUNCESTON Muslim community leader says anti-Islamic bigotry is an unfortunate side-effect of the fear generated by extremist group Islamic State.
Muslim Student Association of Launceston spokesman Abdul Majeed said ‘‘everyday Muslims’’ would inevitably feel the judgment of ‘‘ill-minded’’ people who associated Islam with counter-terrorism raids and the government’s decision to raise the terror alert level.
‘‘The government has raised the alarm and arrested people in Sydney and Brisbane this week – and maybe they have reason to do so,’’ Mr Majeed said.
‘‘It is good that the Prime Minister has come out and said that people should not be afraid of all Muslims because of these actions.
‘‘But unfortunately you do see it become an excuse for ignorant and ill-minded people to behave badly towards peaceful Muslims.’’
Census data from 2011 showed that there were 1800 Muslims living in Tasmania.
Launceston’s own Muslim population – centred on the University of Tasmania – has since grown past 200, with the vast majority being students, teachers or medical professionals.
Mr Majeed said Launceston residents need not fear Islam.
‘‘(The student association) came together to discuss what has been in the news this week, and we all agree that ISIL is not a legitimate representative of Islam,’’ he said.
‘‘People in Launceston do not need to be afraid of Islam.’’
‘‘When people leave our prayer rooms, they go and study, they go to work, they go and be with their children.’’
Mr Majeed also dismissed a social media post by Tasmania’s Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie that appeared to call for a ban on burqas.
‘‘She seems to be the only one who’s talking about it and worrying about it.’’
Hobart Imam Sabri Samson told 936 ABC Hobart yesterday that he was not aware of any Islamic State influence in Tasmania.
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