A positive step in the necessary work of promoting multiculturalism in Australia:
How do you describe a man with red hair and pale skin? Scottish appearance? Irish? Caucasian? How about Lebanese? They are all correct. What about a dark-skinned man with dark hair? Algerian, Portuguese, Greek or even Sri Lankan would fit the bill.
That’s the crux of the angst among ethnic minorities over the use of racial descriptors by police when searching for suspected criminals. Either the descriptor can be misleading or it unfairly stereotypes a community.
The use of controversial descriptors by police, such as “of Middle Eastern appearance”, will be reviewed by state governments in the wake of the Cronulla riots.
The importance of avoiding stereotypes when discussing, reporting and investigating individuals cannot be underestimated. We live in an age when Islamophobia is encouraged and supported by much of the media and political establishment. For this reason alone – and with a growing Muslim population – much greater efforts are required to bring Muslims into the Australian mainstream.