A poll of 1000 people by Essential Research has found 49% of respondents supported a blanket ban on Muslim immigration to Australia, 40% opposed the ban and 11% were not sure.

Young people aged 18–24 were the most likely to oppose a ban on Muslim immigration. Fifty-eight per cent of young people opposed a ban, compared with 28% who supported it.

The 1000 respondents of the 8000 who were sent the survey were most concerned about Muslims not integrating into the Australian way of life or failing to share Australian values. Just over one in four who support a ban also worried about terrorism.

The results are not surprising.

The mainstream media has celebrated the poll’s release with glee. Finally, someone has quantified what the “true blue average Aussie bloke” is really thinking, and what they have been saying all along: Multiculturalism is good for food, but bad for social cohesion.

For many of us, the results read more like a self-fulfilling prophecy, following the unceasing anti-terrorism hysteria with a side of Islamophobia, which has been flashing across TV screens throughout Australia since September 11, 2001.

Everyone’s favourite racist, Pauline Hanson, was nurtured back into the public eye and inevitably the Senate as a paid “expert correspondent” on popular television programs like the Sunrise breakfast news program.

Hanson was brought on both Sunrise and the Today program to “provide context” following the Paris attacks, among a number of other frequent appearances. Her incomprehensible rants about Islamic extremism were legitimised and endorsed as expertise.

Her growing popularity was fostered by an appearance on Dancing with the Stars, as one of the “stars”.

While the major parties paid lip service to distancing themselves from Hanson’s One Nation Party, the distance between their refugee policies is invisible to the naked eye.

Hanson was initially met coldly by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, not out of disgust for her repugnant racist scapegoating, but because she threatened to steal votes from the Coalition by successfully seeding extreme Islamophobic rhetoric among working-class people better than a former merchant banker and his ilk.

Who could be surprised, following Hanson’s maiden speech in which she claimed that we are being “swamped by Muslims”, representing a mere 2.2% of the population, that Islamophobia has peaked?

As Turnbull has persistently driven down living standards and driven up the cost of living, working people are looking for the culprit for their empty pantries and petrol tanks.

There aren’t any jobs, there isn’t any welfare, and we’re in a Baddies vs. Goodies war in the Middle East.

It’s the Muslims!

This spike in Islamophobia did not spring up in a vacuum. It has been deliberately manufactured to justify Australia’s cruelty towards refugees and consecutive violent interventions in the Middle East.

The international surge in anti-Muslim racism displayed by the recent Brexit debate in Britian, and the rise of Donald Trump who is also calling for a ban on Muslim immigraion in the US proves that this upswing is not a coincidence.

Suspicion and hatred of Muslims must be addressed as a divide-and-rule tactic of the rich elite to distract us from identifying the real enemy.

As we all brace for this new wave of aggravated racist violence, we must stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters who will feel the effects of this rhetoric on the streets.

It is time for an honest assessment of who is terrorising whom.

In racist Australia, Muslims are not the main perpetrators of violence; overwhelmingly, they are the victims.

[Mia Sanders is a National Co-convener of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance]

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Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance is the youth wing of the Socialist Alliance, and comprises all members of the Socialist Alliance aged 26 or younger.

Young people — students, young workers and the unemployed — play a vital role in building movements to make fundamental social change. Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to engage, educate and involve young people in getting active to change the world.

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