Studying while Muslim: anti-discrimination law, countering violent extremism, and suspect youth

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    As part of the global War on Terror, governments, including in Australia, have increasingly encouraged teachers to spot students ‘at risk’ of radicalisation, thereby turning schools into sites of surveillance. Despite their important intended goal, these programs have been criticised for leading to over-reporting, misinterpretation, and the stigmatisation of Muslim students who have been disproportionately affected by such surveillance practices. In a climate of Islamophobic suspicion that constructs Muslims as ‘potential terrorists’, such outcomes are not surprising, leaving young Muslims vulnerable to discrimination and stereotyping. This article provides a critical reading of Complainant 201822 v Australian Capital Territory (Represented by the Education Directorate) concerning a young Muslim student who was wrongly reported by his school to public authorities due to his supposedly suspicious behaviour. Using the decision as a case study, the article discusses how young Australian Muslims have been caught in a vicious cycle in which anti-terror laws, policing, and surveillance foster their stereotyping as ‘potential terrorists’. At the same time, the decision illustrates how the law offers little protection against the significant harms caused by this manifestation of systemic Islamophobia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)193-216
    JournalGriffith Law Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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