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Australia, You Are Not Being Taken Over By Muslims, Journalist Says

Al Jazeera English journalist Mehdi Hasan just shut down that theory.

Al Jazeera English journalist Mehdi Hasan shut down publicised stereotypes about the Islamic religion and the suggestion that "Australia could have a Muslim majority who vote in Sharia Law" on Monday night.

Appearing on the ABC's 'Q&A' program, Hasan disagreed with a question posed to him that suggested Muslim birth rates in Australia could lead to the development of a domestic war zone due to "Sunni and Shiah sects... who begin bombing and shooting each other".

"I'm no mathematician -- there's no way the Muslims are going to form a majority in Australia in the next generation or two," he said.

"I believe it's 600,000, or so, out of 24 million Australians in the latest census. You don't have to worry about Muslims coming in and taking over Australia."

While Hasan admitted, in an exchange with audience questioner Roger French, that the public fear linked to Islam does stem from recent acts of terror around the world, he refused to acknowledge claims about a worldwide feud between the members of the religion's different denominations.

"Partly [that fear] comes from, of course, what we've been discussing -- terrorist attacks," he said.

"It would be mad not to talk about the fear that terrorism provokes and the absurd and horrific things that some Muslims do in the name of Islam... A lot of it unfortunately comes from media, social media these days.

"I'm not sure how much you are aware of the differences between Sunni and Shiahs. Are you?"

"Vaguely. I know they're at each other's throats, that's what I know," audience member, French replied.

"That's not true. I'm Shiah. My best friend is Sunni," Hasan shot back, before going on to explain his disagreement.

"There's a geopolitical game in the Middle East where one Shia majority country and one Sunni majority country do want to kind of dominate the region. There's no doubt about that.

"In fact, in a country like Iraq, you mentioned war-torn countries in the Middle East, Iraq -- a country torn apart by war partly by its horrific dictator, partly by a Western coalition that involved Australia that went in to make it more war-torn, and today is driven by sectarians that didn't really exist pre-2003.

"Pre-2003 Sunnis and Shias got married in Iraq, had Su-Shi children, mixed children. Today, a lot of the sectarian push issues are pushed by foreign wars and foreign occupations. I have many friends who are Shia, many friends who are Sunni, we're not all at each other's throats. Please don't believe everything you read about us, come and talk to us, meet us, make Shia and Sunni friends -- then you'll see."

When the conversation later turned to one questioner's experiences while living in Australia as a Muslim, Hasan also chimed in to say Islamophobia appears to be on the rise in Australia, along with the rest of the world.

In describing his experiences, questioner Fahad Akhand said: "It's like pretty much opening up the news and being like, 'whoa, that news report was like 99.99 percent racist,' like, you wake up to it... you're made to feel like you have to explain yourself.

"You have to explain to your colleagues, you have to explain to your family, you have to explain to your non-Muslim mates things that, you know, are not relevant to you."

And in response, Hasan said: "I've been here a week now, hugely welcoming country, love this place. Let me say that very clearly.

"But the day after I arrived, a report came out last week from a bunch of universities about Islamophobe attacks in Australia. 243 verified Islamophobe incidents between 2014 and 2015 -- two out of three victims of attacks were women. 80 percent of those women were wearing headscarves.

"It's growing everywhere. I've come from the United States, where anti-Muslim bullying in schools is at a record high, attacks on mosques, on women in headscarves are at a record high. In the UK, many people say Islamophobia drove Brexit, in many ways -- the fear of Turkey joining, Syrian refugees. It is a global problem right now."


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