An Australian Muslim group has tried to to get taxpayers’ money to fund “safe spaces” for young Muslims where they could “rage” and express extremist and “inflammatory” views.
Following the revelations that the Islamic Council of Victoria wanted the government to fund “safe spaces” for Muslims, as reported by The Herald Sun, the government of Victoria is considering cutting off funding to the Islamic group.
The group submitted a request to the Parliament asking that funds for federal counterterrorism and anti-extremism programs be directed at creating spaces for young Muslims to vent.
“Muslim young people are feeling more emotionally overloaded. A safe space is needed for them 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 group’s submission read.
“That they cannot express irony, humour, 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.”
Islamic Council’s vice president Adel Salman denied the allegations that the space would be used as rage rooms.
“[The proposal] talks about a range of emotions, one of them being anger, were not asking for rage rooms … we’re actually asking for youths to express themselves with a range of emotions and not to be judged.”
The group’s request caused a public outcry. Various politicians critical of the suggestion called it “wrong” and described the spaces as “hate space”.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews blasted the “hate space” proposal, saying “There is no safe way to rail against the West” and pledged to not provide any state funding.
The council has been showered with millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money since 2001, including $850,000 youth officer grant over four years and $550,000 for an “empower youth” program over three years, The Herald Sun notes.
“We will be having a very close look at the Islamic Council of Victoria’s funding in a broader sense because I am very troubled, very troubled, by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a deradicalization program,” Premier Andrews said.
“We’ll be having a close look at the Islamic Council of Victoria’s funding and their approach to these matters in a boarder sense. We will not be supporting this.”
Robin Scott, Multicultural Affairs Minister, said: “This idea is deeply unhelpful and wrong. Under no circumstances would we support the diversion of state funding from counter-terrorism initiatives for such a proposal.”