MELBOURNE - A new research study has found that tolerant Islamic teachings help young Australian Muslims cope with Islamophobic and racist campaigns against their faith in the post-9/11 era.
"I found that one way to achieve healthy outcomes for young people facing racism is to build on pathways of resilience that young people are already using, such as their faith and religious teachings," Kavindi Wadumestri, the editor of the research carried out in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs, told Health Canal on Monday, February 13.
Providing insights for human service agencies to develop more effective policies and programs, the research, in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, is based on discussions with young Australian Muslims of Lebanese origin.
It found that Islam was a non-violent religion and that religious teachings showed that it was wrong to hit back.
"Young people who were experiencing racial slurs were feeling anger and wanted to retaliate, they felt it was right to stand up and defend themselves against such slurs; but people they respected offered a different viewpoint," Wadumestri said.
"These respected people put forward an ethical framework from their religious teachings for the younger people," she said.
"In turn the younger people reflected on this, appreciated and valued it, and changed their views accordingly."
The research found thta young Australian Muslims living in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs are experiencing direct and mediated forms of discrimination.
"These events and the public and media reaction to them helped create a hostile context for young Muslims and anyone of Lebanese-appearance growing up in Australia," Wadumestri said.
"Insights from my research can be used to develop policies and programs that are aimed at promoting young people's resilience, tackling racism and strengthening young people's sense of belonging to the wider community."
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.
A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.