Mariam Veiszadeh was on the bus when she read the poll result.
The cure for this mental illness is called ‘leaving Islam’. We can help.
Pauline Hanson’s anti-Muslim manifesto
The Greens walk out during the One Nation leader’s maiden senate speech as she calls for the burqa to be banned, Muslim immigration to be stopped and the construction of mosques to be halted.
“Every 2nd person sitting on the bus I was on this morning would ban people like me from coming here,” Ms Veiszadeh, a diversity advocate, wrote on Twitter soon after.
An Essential poll had found 49 per cent of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration.
Researchers first asked the question in late July and found the numbers “high”.
“I was worried that it was what we call a rogue poll,” researcher Peter Lewis said, even though that week’s two-party preferred figures looked normal.
So Mr Lewis repeated the question a week later. The nearly identical result “floored” him.
The 49 per cent figure was much higher than the 29 per cent of Australians who said they opposed Muslim immigration when asked by the Roy Morgan agency last October.
Roy Morgan found support for Muslim immigration had risen to 65 per cent, up from 54 per cent in 2010.
The latest numbers come after an election campaign in which Pauline Hanson called for a ban on Muslim immigration – a claim she repeated during her maiden speech to federal parliament earlier this month.
In the United States, presidential candidate Donald Trump has made the same claim as he campaigns for the White House.
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” said Ms Veiszadeh, a Sydneysider who founded the Islamophobia Register to track anti-Muslim sentiment.
“Many of our leaders chose to walk past Pauline Hanson. Some went so far as to hug her.”
Husnia Underabi, a Western Sydney University researcher studying mosques in NSW, said she was not surprised by the poll.
“We know that Islamophobia is on the rise,” Ms Underabi said, blaming parts of the media, “vociferous” far-right groups and counter-terrorism legislation perceived to target Muslims.
“I’ve got the whole weight of the world on my shoulders…The more that Pauline Hanson does, the more work we have to do to repair the damage.”
Keysar Trad, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said he was “heartbroken” by the poll finding.
“I would never have expected 50 per cent of people to come out with such an attitude,” he said. “It’s all the evidence we need to see that Pauline’s fear politics are influencing people.”
Mr Trad said other politicians – such as Cory Bernardi, George Christensen and Jacqui Lambie – should also bear responsibility for fanning Islamophobia. He called for the leaders of the major political parties to publicly respond to the result.