Surveys over the last few years are a cause for concern when it comes to inter-faith and societal harmony in Oz. Apparently almost one in four of us have a negative attitude to Muslims. (The Mapping Social Cohesion 2014 Report and full results of a snap poll taken in October are available online.)
23% of respondents described their attitude to Muslims as ‘very negative’ or ‘somewhat negative’. This compared to just 3% regarding attitude to Christians and 6% to Buddhists.
Some of the poor attitude to Muslims, surely, derives from ignorance: the SMH told us recently of a poll in which Australians surveyed thought, on average, that 18% of our population is Islamic. (What’s the true figure? Can you guess?) And no doubt opinion is shaped by media sensationalism, notably in the News Ltd tabloids on this issue.
Of course there’s no room in surveys like this for subtleties. Which Muslims? Which Christians?
It would have been interesting, also, to have figures on our attitude to atheists. I doubt they’d have done as well as the Christians or the Buddhists…