Monday night’s fatal siege in Brighton has put Victorian Muslims on high alert for hate speech, the Islamic Council of Victoria says.
The siege, in which two men were killed and three police offers shot, came just days after a fatal terror attack on London Bridge and within three weeks of the attack in Manchester which left 22 people dead.
Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Anam Javed said Muslims, particularly covered women, feared being harassed and abused in the wake of the attacks.
The council will hold their annual interfaith Iftar in Ballarat for the first time this weekend.
Ms Javed said the Iftar – which marks the breaking of fast during Ramadan – was an opportunity to show the resilience and compassion of Islam, and reach out in support of regional Muslim communities, which were often isolated, underfunded and more vulnerable to hostility.
“It’s all been back-to-back, there was the Manchester concert bombing followed by the London stabbing and this incident in Brighton, we’re living in fear for sure,” Ms Javed said.
“Muslims feel that there’s a magnifying glass on us and any misstep can result in serious repercussions and on social media it certainly does.”
Ms Javed said Muslims were confident speaking out against extremism but “it’s about how others perceive it and whether it’s ever going to be enough”.
She said the Muslim community needed to be wary of apologising for the actions of extremists.
“We do need to be careful in not taking ownership on what has happened because the more we do that, we start taking ownership on everything that is happening globally and start apologising for it.
“The message is get to know Muslims one-on-one, form your own conclusions. Please don’t hold us accountable for all the negativity and violence that’s occurring overseas and now in Melbourne.”
The Iftar will be attended by Victoria Police officials, parliamentarians and faith leaders.