LETTERS | 'Free speech is not freedom to divide'

Generic image. Picture: Pixabay
Generic image. Picture: Pixabay

'Our vision is an Australia with a hopeful and vibrant sense of nationhood; one that owns and celebrates its cosmopolitan nature. Necessary to that nationhood is the ability to grasp the most difficult contentions and tensions with honesty, genuine listening and mutual respect.'

That's from the Australian National Imams Council's submission to the Religious Discrimination Bill, now in draft form. That quote succinctly puts into perspective the need to take action to protect the social harmony of our diverse communities.

I have the honour of representing one of the most multicultural communities in this country, a diverse range of people who've come from various parts of the world, bringing their culture and religious backgrounds. I've personally seen the benefits of that. We're bigger, better and bolder because of their contributions. We should all be able to go about our lives free from discrimination, religious vilification and hate-motivated violence.

Hate-filled crimes have motivated white supremacist ideology on our shores, including repeated attacks on the Holland Park mosque in Brisbane. Recently, a man with a machete walked towards a congregation of worshippers at that mosque. Luckily, neighbours pointed him out it and he left.

Research by the Council of Australian Jewry last year found there'd been a 60 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the preceding 12 months. Similarly, the eSafety Commissioner has noted 53 per cent of youth in Australia have witnessed anti-Muslim content online. It's reprehensible to think this is occurring under our watch. In social-policy terms, the impacts are grave, with research indicating that such behaviour creates an environment which cultivates discrimination and vilification, normalises negative attitudes and is linked to extremism.

More distressing, is that women are the main targets of personal attacks based on religion and that almost half of all personal attacks on women have been in public and crowded places. That should concern us all. We must stand united against hatred. Free speech does not, and should not, ever equate to freedom to spread intolerance and division.


Printed copies of the paper?

I'm enquiring about the distribution of the Liverpool Champion at West Hoxton. For few years this has stopped and I just wanted to know if distribution will resume?

SHAHZAD, West Hoxton

The Editor responds: Regrettably, not in the foreseeable future. Because of the rising costs of hard-copy printing and distribution Australian Community Media is increasingly focusing on online publication, at liverpoolchampion.com.au and fairfieldchampion.com.au.