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In the present-day world of globalization and modernization, the amount of people migrating from one state to another is increasing at an enormous speed. In the West, practically all countries are now full of immigrants coming from all parts of the world. As a result, there emerge more and more highly diverse societies, in which people having different cultural and religious backgrounds have to live together (Stromquist & Monkman 2014). However, another consequence of this multicultural environment is that religion has become a point of difference, which cannot pass unnoticed as not only the number of people residing in a country is affected–religious beliefs and cultural values, as well as ways of life of various minority groups, have a considerable impact on the organization of the indigenous society.
A continuous flow of immigrants inevitably brings about numerous changes to the population of the country, which touch all the aspects of people’s life (Hirst, Thompson & Bromley 2015). The research has revealed that such blended communities that have a considerable number of immigrants deal with religious diversity and identity issues through demographic and structural factors (Griffiths 2015). The point is that immigrants usually attach high significance to their religious beliefs as they govern their lives in a new country and allow their culture to develop even in previously unmet conditions. Bringing their cultural and religious values, beliefs, and lifestyles with them, immigrants transform the structure of the region, in which they decide to reside and substantially change religious landscapes of cities (McKim 2015).
For instance, Australia currently hosts a considerable number of different religious groups–this allows speaking of religious pluralism in the country. Indeed, the Australian society of today has appeared as a result of the unceasing flow of immigrants who brought their cultures and religions with them when they started to come to the continent in 1945 from Italy, Greece, the UK, the Middle East, and some Asian countries (Connell & McManus 2016). Statistics show that 28.2% of the entire population of the country was not born there, which implies that the community unites some different religions: In 2001, there were 67.9% Christians, 1.5% Muslims, and 30.6% other religious groups; however, ten years later, the number of Muslims grew up to 2.2%, making them the fourth largest religious community in Australia (Bouma & Hughes 2014).
Such unprecedented growth is explained by increasing immigration as well as birth rates among those who already live in the country (Peucker, Roose & Akbarzadeh 2014). This religious community is far from being homogeneous: On the contrary, there are a lot of ethnical groups that comprise it (including the Lebanese, Egyptians, Turks, Afghans, Bosnians, etc.), each speaking a variety of different languages (English, Arabic, Urdu, etc.) (Roose & Harris 2015). 70% of them reside in Sydney (making 4.8% of the whole population of the city) whereas the remaining 30% are distributed across other cities (Bouma & Hughes 2014).
Thus, Australia is a highly demonstrative example making it possible to analyze religious diversity in general and the Muslim group in particular. Another good example of a similar distribution of this community is New Zealand: 67% of Muslims live in Auckland while 32% have opted for other cities for their permanent residence (Kelsey 2015). Muslims came to New Zealand in the 19th century (almost two centuries later than to Australia) and brought the same culture and social structure there as they did to the neighboring country. This was made possible by the policy of both countries giving no way to discrimination of people having different nationalities and religious beliefs. That is the major reason these two countries have been chosen for the analysis. Muslims often select areas situated close to mosques as they need these places for performing their religious rituals daily (Ali, Payne & Hinckson 2015). That is also why Yanbu Industrial is a suitable instance: It is famous not only for the diverse cultural and religious landscape but also for a considerable number of mosques. The paper will perform a comparative analysis of Sydney, Auckland, and Yanbu Industrial spatial distribution of mosques with the help of Geography Information System (GIS).
Research Aims and Objectives
The study intends to investigate spatial variations in accessibility to mosques in the selected area. It will determine disadvantaged areas featuring few mosques, the number of which does not satisfy the increasing demand. Access barriers to mosques will also be identified and discussed.
Specific objectives of the study include:
- To identify spatial variations in accessibility to mosques as a crucial indicator for Muslim communities residing in Sydney, Auckland, and Yanbu Industrial;
- To single out existing spatial clusters of disadvantaged groups of Muslims that have no access to services and facilities that they find essential.
Significance of the Study
The research may prove to be significant for finding an evidence-based policy solution to the problem of accessibility of critical facilities for representatives of Muslim communities in the selected areas, which would allow addressing the current distribution disadvantage. Moreover, findings obtained by the study may help people choose the right place for their permanent dwelling. Therefore, the study will benefit not only the government but also policymakers and non-government organizations, performing various activities to improve the minority community. The structure of the research can be applied for exploring other facilities and population groups through certain changes in analytical settings and data will have to be introduced for this purpose.
Regardless of the religious group under discussion, everyone must have access to services and facilities used for satisfying daily needs. Otherwise, inevitable difficulties are likely to emerge: For instance, in 2010, 30% of adults in Australia had to encounter several problems connected with access to some vehicles and facilities, which produced numerous negative effects as these facilities were important to people (Bouma & Hughes 2014). Thus, it is essential to identify locations, in which mosques are adequately distributed since it can make a difference not only to Muslims but to the population as a whole (Roose & Harris 2015).
The research, recognizing the importance of these facilities to the minority community, will help increase their number of the selected areas (Roose & Harris 2015).
Furthermore, if mosques are not distributed properly and tend to cluster in some places more than in others, it leads to the overconcentration of the community representatives in the former areas (Bouma & Hughes 2014). A comprehensive literature review has revealed that very few studies were devoted to the problem of the availability of mosques (as well as other facilities) to Muslims (Roose & Harris 2015).
For the reasons mentioned, the identification of adequate spatial accessibility is an issue of paramount importance for the community.
The research will use high spatial resolution data sets along with GIS-based spatial analysis and spatial statistical measures. The major idea underlying the study is to find out the spatial variation inaccessibility to the facilities at fine spatial resolution while the key consideration is mosques (by using GIS).
Ali, N, Payne, D & Hinckson, E 2015, ‘Being-Muslim and doing-Islam: narratives that influence physical activity of Muslim women in New Zealand’. Sites: a Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 106-132.
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Bouma, GD & Hughes, PJ 2014, ‘Using census data in the management of religious diversity: an Australian case study’, Religion, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 434-452.
Connell, J & McManus, P 2016, Rural revival: place marketing, tree change and regional migration in Australia, Routledge, London.
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Kelsey, J 2015, The New Zealand experiment: a world model for structural adjustment, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.
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Peucker, M, Roose, JM & Akbarzadeh, S 2014, ‘Muslim active citizenship in Australia: socioeconomic challenges and the emergence of a Muslim elite’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 282-299.
Roose, JM & Harris, A 2015, ‘Muslim citizenship in everyday Australian civic spaces’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 468-486.
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