SYDNEY - Despite living thousands of miles away, Australia's Muslims are fearful of retaliation attacks against their community and mosques following a machete killing of a British soldier in London.
Two weeks after that [9/11] our local mosque was totally burnt down to the ground, and also ladies with head scarves were abused verbally and physically, Mohammed Abdullah, from the National Center of Excellence for Islamic Studies at Griffith University, told ABC radio on Monday, May 27.The local bus that takes children to the Islamic College of Brisbane was also stoned.
Fears have gripped the Muslim community in Australia following the machete killing of an army soldier by two converts of Nigerian origin.
Though they were swift in condemning the attack, Australian Muslims were still worried about a possible retaliation against their community.
Recalling the 9/11 backlash, the Australian Muslim Youth Network has sent messages to members across the country urging them to be careful.
"Some people may harm innocent Muslims in return, so be cautious, the message says.
Please do not enter into discussions or arguments in emotional situations as it could be gravely misunderstood".
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.
Open To Questions
Abdullah said Muslim community leaders have urged their congregations, especially youth, to avoid arguments and stay away from rallies or protests.
We say, look, if someone speaks to you, you just remain calm and be polite and civil, said Abdullah, who is a member of Queensland's Council of Imams.
Answer any question about Islam in the best possible way, but if anyone tries to argue viciously or becomes violent then just walk away and if need be we speak to the police.
The Australian imam said Muslims were asked to be alert to the possibility of a local backlash.
The scars of the mosques being burnt and other mosques being fire bombed and sisters being attacked and elderly people being attacked is still fresh in the minds of people, and so they don't want to end up in the same situation.
Fearing anti-Muslim attacks, the state's Multicultural Affairs Minister, Glen Elmes, has urged people not to discriminate against Muslims in the wake of London killing.
"It was the action of two crazed individuals, not a religious group," Elmes said.
Australia was a tolerant country, he said, and "difference of opinion and cultural diversity" were keys to the country's uniquely multicultural population.
"Let us celebrate and promote that diversity to our mutual benefit."
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.