Almost 60 per cent of Australians would be concerned if a close relative married a Muslim, a university study into Islamophobia has found.
Co-author of the Deakin University paper, Dr Matteo Vergani, said the randomly selected Australians - who were not asked for their religious background - would be less worried if a relative married someone with a Jewish (33 per cent), Buddhist (29.4 per cent) or Christian (8.1 per cent) background.
Of the 304 people interviewed, more than a third also agreed with statements such as 'practicising Muslims pose a threat to Australian society' (40.4 per cent) and 'practising Muslims should be searched more thoroughly than others in airports and stations' (36.5 per cent).
The preliminary findings were based on the first of three pieces of data from the 2016 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA).
Dr Vergani said the findings showed that education was needed to fight Islamophobia in this country.
“We found that across the board – among conservative or progressive individuals, people of different age, education and country of birth – there was an association between someone’s level of knowledge about Islam and their prejudice against Muslims," he said.
“In the wake of the recent Essential poll which showed that 49 per cent of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration, this result is particularly heartening and important because it suggests that education and knowledge of Islam is key to overcoming Islamophobia and building a more cohesive society.”
Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and chief investigator of the Islamic Religiosity project, Professor Fethi Mansouri, said the findings validated feelings from Muslims of not belonging.
“The findings in this research gives more weight to this and gives evidence to reports from the Muslim community who are relentlessly made to feel that they do not fit in our society and don’t have a right to be here,” he said.