In Australia, is anti-Islam sentiment predominantly associated with people who have, or are descended from, nationalities more traditionally associated with Australia, such as the UK, Ireland, and countries in western Europe, the kind of countries that were more acceptable during the height of the White Australia Policy? Although they've been here the longest, I'm not referring to Aborigines or Torres Straight Islanders as descended from nationalities traditionally associated with Australia.

Islamophobia, social distance and fear of terrorism in Australia: a preliminary report has in the PDF report that anti-Islam sentiment is more common in people from a non-English speaking background (page 18):

Those from English speaking background (ESB) do not differ from the reference group Australian born, but non-ESB are more than 50% more likely to be in the high Islamophobia Score level (odds ratio 1.67).

The report also says that anti-Islam sentiment is more common in Buddhists and Hindus compared to the national average (page 15):

There are significant differences in Islamophobia scores among respondents with different religious affiliations.


Among the followers of non-Christian religious affiliations, the Buddhists and Hindus, two of the fastest growing religions in Australia, have significantly higher Islamophobia scores.

and while the results of this survey isn't too surprising, I'd like to know whether other research backs this up, because the impression the mainstream media often gives is that anti-Islam sentiment in Australia is the domain of Bogan Caucasians (similar to that of a Redneck in the US).

  • There will be a difficulty in getting single answer for this question, as Anti-Islamic sentiment can be split into religious, political and cultural phobia - each of which different segments of the population are more prone too; depending on their background and frame of reference. Since Australia aspires to be and to continue being a multicultural society; the marginalisation of Islamophobia in the majority Caucasian population is the primary imperative of the mainstream media. Or simply put, the media is less concerned in the most extreme hatreds but rather broader nativist trends. Jan 25, 2016 at 11:15

3 Answers 3


According to the very paper you've cited, the highest incidence of islamophobia by religious affiliation of the subject was among the "presbyterian/reformed" group.

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I don't know a lot about Australia, but I think ethnic minorities aren't overwhelmingly represented in the "presbyterian/reformed" group. It's also true that some religious minorities like Hindu etc. had above-average Islamophobia, but not above the "presbyterian/reformed" group. Also the difference between Catholics (a larger group)-average 2.3, and Hindus 2.4 might be statistically significant, but in terms of effect size seems not so. The "other Christian" group (numerically sizeable) also scored 2.4 on that Islamophobia scale. (And the "Uniting Church" scored as high as the Buddhists at 2.5.) The sizeable group that scored below average is the non-religious one.

And frankly your post looks like a bit of blame-shifting. Hindus or Buddhists only form a small minority in Australia (chart from Wikipedia):

enter image description here

So you can't hold Buddhists and Hindus responsible for most of the Islamophobia in Australia, even if the "non-NESBs" on average are below them in terms Islamophobia (due to the non-religious chunk of them). Your question is almost a racist jab in itself, blaming a minority (be it a religious one like the Buddhists or Hindus, or the "NESBs") for a phenomenon that is clearly more widespread in Australian society. (The paper doesn't seem to tabulate NESBs by religion, but NESBs are only 14.9% of the sample.) But the logistic regression the coefficient for "Other Christian" was 1.916

And party affiliation probably predicts the variations in islamophobia just as well as religion does, e.g the Liberal party and the National/Country party score as high as the Buddhists and Hindus:

enter image description here

Interestingly, their logistic regression coefficient for National party affiliates being islamophobic was even higher than for NESBs (1.72 vs 1.67). They did not find statistical significance for the National party though. What that this kind of situation usually means is that the [sub]sample was too small, i.e. the survey was underpowered. They did find the Labor party affiliates as significantly non-islamophobic though. But the reference was the Liberal party, so that also means the Liberal party affiliates are significantly more islamophobic than Labor's. And that's probably more noteworthy than blaming religious/language minorities for islamophobia in Australia. 32.0% of the sample were Liberal, 31.1% Labor. Those party affiliations describe more substantial chunks of the population than NESB, and we can tell them apart islamophobia-wise.

enter image description here

Also, basic math shows the odd-ratio for Liberal vs Labor is 1.76:1 compared to NESB vs Australian-born 1.67:1, so even the strength of the relationships is slightly higher for the political affiliations [with sizeable following] than for NESB. Basically, the average Liberal is more islamophobic than the average Labor affiliate relative to how islamophobic the average NESB is vs the Australian-born population. So, yeah, dercy the Liberal islamophobes before the NESB ones for more than one reason.

  • Also NESBs apparently mostly used to vote for Labor, but I'm not too sure of that in more recent times. If that still holds, then Labor affiliates would be even less islamophobic sans their NESB supporters.
    – Fizz
    Oct 9, 2019 at 8:30

TLDR: It's not about traditional nationalities as Muslims and progressive-left express high support for Muslims, while the rest of society have rather mixed feelings.

There are a few issues with this study:

  • excessively sensitive - as 28.5% of Muslims suffer from mild Islamophobia according to it.

  • tiny samples for some religions low differences - maybe we can get some statistically significant conclusions for individual denominations, but that would require great p-hacking skills.

  • term Islamophobia is somewhat loaded - it automatically implies that fear is irrational, while study in no way distinguish concerning rational and irrational fears

The division seems to be more according to party line and not ethnicity / religion. There is nothing shocking that Muslims like themselves, neither there is anything surprising that other, more traditional people (regardless of their ethnicity or religion) look a bit uneasy. (both behaviours are fully rational from evolutionary perspective) The only outlier is progressive left which present unique preference for out-group people of theoretically opposing views, which was the most visible for electorate of Green Party.


Perhaps the question should be reasked, its missing the main point of WHY people dislike Islam.

Religion is not about beliefs, that a rather simplistic childish view, all religions are about politics.

Saudis dont allow other religions to openly organise themselves or get involved in any form of political discussion. England in the past didnt allow Catholics, Catholic nations like Spain didnt allow Presbitarians or Jewish religous institutions.

The same is because religions are amongst the oldest political institutions. People understand that religion forms the way people think, what they do, and how they live, just look at the Middle east, no Islam and the place is very very different.

  • 1
    I'm not sure to what extent this answers the question. It may be the start of an answer, but you need to tie it back to the subject in question. Now it seems more like a comment.
    – JJJ
    Nov 11, 2019 at 11:26

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