Political Islam and the future of Australian multiculturalism

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Journal Article
National Identities, 2007, 9 (3), pp. 265 - 280
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How can complex and diverse societies ensure the survival of core democratic values and the allegiance of all citizens, while respecting cultural difference? In the Australian context, these issues have been foregrounded by the presence of Muslim communities. This article argues that the discourses about Muslims and discourses by Muslims can work to reveal the dynamics for negotiating social cohesion. The political projects of mainstream Muslim communities can play a critical role in knitting together fragmented elements, and offering broader fronts through which a more integrated multicultural society can evolve. However, the potential for integration can be undermined in two ways: a) by political decisions in the dominant society that reject such projects, rather than engaging with them in creative and constructive directions; and b) by marginal groups within Muslim communities gaining greater leverage over younger people in a period of heightened apprehension occasioned by world events and Australian government reactions.
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