Perth Muslim students attending a career expo at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre were allegedly forced to leave after onlookers felt threatened by their “attire” because of Manchester’s suicide bombing.
Some people complained the school children’s hijabs were “making them feel uncomfortable after what happened in Manchester” and asked staff to have them removed from the venue.
The PCEC has confirmed the centre was contacted about an alleged incident involving discrimination against patrons on May 26 but deny their staff were involved.
It comes just over a week after Salman Abedi killed 22 people in a suicide bomb attack in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert.
A mother of one of the students, who didn’t want to be named, said her 16-year-old daughter was at the Careers Expo at the Convention Centre last week when she and her school friends were told by their teacher they had to pack up their lunch and leave.
“I’m not angry, I’m just sad,” the mum of the student told WAtoday.
“I feel particularly sad that my daughter went on an excursion and didn’t enjoy it.
“I see this as an opportunity to raise awareness and get a deeper understanding of how young Muslims in Australia feel.
“For starters, how can people think what the students are wearing has anything to do what happens elsewhere?
“If I was there I wouldn’t have gone off my head, I would’ve asked ‘what is it about how the girls are dressed that makes them feel uncomfortable’.”
The well-know educator said when her daughter and friends were looking at sewing machines a woman holding the stall said “in our country young people ask for help”.
“My daughter was born at King Edward, so this person thinking she comes from another country just shows ignorance,” she said.
“These are young people who feel on the outside, who were made to feel isolated, yet they should be embraced by our society.
“What does this do to a young person’s self-esteem, self-worth and confidence?”
“I’m not interested in making a complaint with the centre or following it up with the staff; it just shows we need more dialogue and more education.
“Like I said, I’m not angry, I’m saddened.”
Islamophobia Register Australia President, Mariam Veiszadeh, told WAtoday she was “very disappointed to hear about the incident.”
“Time and time again, we come across examples of ignorant prejudice in which every day people conflate the faith of 1.6 plus billion Muslims worldwide with that of the murderous acts of a group who hold themselves out to be Muslims.
“Women often bear the brunt of Islamophobia and a rather alarming number of incidents take place in the presence of children.
“There has been very little research done into the impact of Islamophobia on young people and the inevitable impact it would have on their sense of identify and self-worth.”
The prominent lawyer and Daily Life 2016 Woman of the Year said there was “little doubt” that young people, continually exposed to acts of Islamphobia, would lead to feelings of alienation and disenfranchisement.
“In the coming months we will launch a comprehensive, first of its kind report on Islamophobia in Australia which will critically analyse verified incidents of Islamophobia reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia during the period 2014/2015,” she said.
A spokesperson for PCEC said the centre did not condone discrimination of any kind.
“All staff are aware of this as a condition of employment,” he said.
“After an internal investigation, the centre does not believe any of the PCEC’s staff were involved in such an event.”