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Debunking misconceptions of Muslim participation in the community

Australia and Germany each have relatively small Muslim communities that represent only about five percent and two percent of their total populations respectively.

Yet members of these groups noticeably and enthusiastically participate in their broader communities, whether it is in topical activities such as assisting newly arriving refugees from Syria, or lending their voice to the local government council.

Victoria University researcher Dr Mario Peucker will examine why this occurs despite common misconceptions in Germany and Australia that Muslims are disloyal to their countries and adhere to values incompatible with the liberal values of the wider society.

“Why would anyone who constantly faces such public suspicion and allegations, as well as personal or collective experiences of exclusion and anti-Muslim rhetoric, be eager to contribute to the very society that refuses to accept that Muslims are just ordinary citizens?” Dr Peucker asks.

A public seminar, Active citizenship of Muslims in Australia and Germany, will for the first time reveal Dr Peucker’s fascinating findings based on in-depth interviews with self-declared Muslims actively engaged in various forms of civic and political participation.

The seminar will also explore a further misconception that the Islamic faith is an obstacle to citizenship, when in fact the opposite seems to be the case: the faith of the Muslim community is a civic resource, he said.

Dr Peucker’s study offers a way forward for mainstream society representatives – such as policymakers and non-Muslim community groups – to strengthen their efforts to cooperate with Muslim grassroots groups and promote cross-community networks and, ultimately, social cohesion.     

The seminar will be interactive with opportunities for discussion.

The event is part of the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing’s seminar and symposium program.  It will be held at VU at MetroWest on Thursday 24 September from 4pm-5pm.

About the speaker

Dr Mario Peucker is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing (Victoria University). He has carried numerous research projects, both in Europe and Australia, in the area of cultural and religious diversity, exclusion and citizenship since 2003 and has been invited to consultations with, among others:

  • the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism
  • the Council of Europe
  • the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • the Australian Commission for Human Rights.

In the past five years his research focussed especially on Muslims’ civic and political participation in Australia and other western countries. ENDS

Dr Mario Peucker is available for interview.

Media Contact: Ann Marie Angebrandt: 03 9919 5487, 0401 100 576 or annmarie.angebrandt@vu.edu.au

 

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