In the context of Islamophobic narratives in ‘western’ countries, including Australia, Muslim minorities are increasingly under pressure. Some attribute this hostility towards minorities to the long-standing conflict in the Middle East and more recently a series of terrorist attacks by ‘Islamist extremists’.

UNESCO chair holder in comparative research on cultural belonging and social justice, Professor Fethi Mansouri, shared research insights in a workshop hosted at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology that brought some of Australia’s leading researchers of racism, Islamophobia, and urban diversity together.

“Contemporary debates about Muslim Diasporas frequently focus on the question of whether Muslims living in the West have the capacity to be fully active citizens while maintaining their religious obligations.”  – Islamic Religiosity in the West report.

‘Heterotopias of devotion: Islamic Religiosity, Islamophobia and the Politics of Diversity and Belonging’ reported on research findings of two studies that examined Islamic religiosity in the ‘west’ on one hand and public attitudes towards Islam and Muslims on the other.

“The findings reported in his paper highlight the importance of Islamic rituals and practices in sustaining affective and socio-political orientations for individuals and their communities, and more critically their DIFFERENCE from mediatised images and association with violent extremism as postulated by proponents of the ‘excess’ religiosity hypothesis,” Professor Mansouri said.

Comparing existing insights into its causes, forms, consequences and possible policy responses, the workshop aimed to advance conceptual understanding of Islamophobia in Australia. Many case studies in Australia show evidence of Islamophobia, and Australian Muslims adapting their behaviour due to the fear of harassment and discrimination.

Similarly, Islamic Religiosity in the West the latest research project, led by Professor Mansouri, investigated how participation in Islamic religious practices strengthens attachments to the ‘western’ cities where Muslims have chosen to live.