THE peak body for Muslims in Victoria has expressed concern after offensive anti-Islamic pamphlets were put in letterboxes in Ringwood.
The pamphlet, titled ‘Is Allah Like You?’, portrays a Muslim man bashing his wife and child, and being told by a religious elder that he is correct to do so.
They appeared in letterboxes on Monday last week and are the work of US-based evangelical business Chick Publications, which is listed as a hate group by international human rights organisations.
Islamic Council of Victoria vice-president Adel Salman said it was not the first time pamphlets targeting Muslims were being delivered to houses around the state.
He said the pamphlets in Ringwood were spreading misinformation and were aimed at inciting fear and hatred of Muslims in the community.
“I’m obviously disappointed (and) concerned,” he said.
“People are free to express themselves and their views and share material to inform the public.
“But, at the very least, people should be factual, responsible, and we shouldn’t accept people subverting the democratic process by spreading false information meant to create fear and division.”
Although Chick Publications is responsible for the material, it is unclear who delivered the pamphlets to Ringwood and how many were handed out.
According to Chick’s website, its sole Australian distributor is Mitcham-based Wood Bookstores — but the pamphlets can also be ordered directly online from the US.
Wood Bookstores did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the 2016 Census, Maroondah is home to 668 Muslims, and they make up just 0.6 per cent of the municipality’s population.
Mr Salman said he expected Muslims would be “mortified” at finding the pamphlets in their letterboxes.
“Already we know many Muslims are afraid,” he said.
“People are avoiding public transport and going to public places because they might be abused, vilified and attacked.
“This adds to the climate of fear. It creates real issues in terms of social cohesion and harmony, and I believe it’s a threat to our democracy.”
The same pamphlets were distributed in Canberra in 2012, while other Chick pamphlets targeting Catholics were placed at churches in Bendigo in 2014.