A May proposal introduced by an Australian Islamic group to allow taxpayer-funded safe spaces for adolescent Muslims has enraged many Australians, including the state premier himself.
The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV), which claims to represent 200,000 Muslims, is calling for the safe spaces so that young Muslims can make “inflammatory” comments, while also having their views “respectfully challenged,” according to the BBC.
The proposal states that the ICV aims to “create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms, where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory.”
The ICV says that the “constant surveillance” of the Muslim community is a “human rights issue” and argues that young Muslims are grappling with mental health issues due to widespread Islamophobia.
“That they [Muslim youth] cannot express irony, humor, anger or joy in words and facial expressions that would make them a target for ‘surveillance’ is a cause for despondency leading to mental health issues among many,” the group claims according to the Daily Mail.
The council has even demanded that the money the Australian government uses for anti-extremism measures should instead be spent on these safe spaces and has called on the government to invest in research and programs to address the rise of “far-right” groups.
However, State Premier Daniel Andrews has taken a firm stance, ruling out any possibility of funding ICV’s proposal.
“I am very troubled by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a de-radicalization program. That makes no sense to me whatsoever,” Andrews stated according to the BBC.
Andrews also questioned creating a space to allow the opportunity to spread dissension.
“We’ve had a constructive relationship with the Islamic Council of Victoria but … proposing to create a space where people can just rant … this is a hate space,” he said according to the Guardian.
The request for funding a Muslim safe space, or what has become known as a “rage space” in some Australian media, comes just days after a deadly siege struck the populous city of Melbourne. Before being gunned down by police, Yacqub Khayre killed a man, wounded three police officers and took a woman hostage.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, which has led Victoria’s state government to discuss radical new anti-terrorism measures.
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