Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, August 2017
Burqa stunt failed to stir anti-Muslim sentiments in Australian Senate
Perhaps taking cue from the Trump fomented rising tide of ultra-rightists, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Australia’s rightwing One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson Thursday (August 17) staged a burqa stunt to stir anti-Muslim sentiments.
Pauline Hanson Thursday appeared in the Australian Senate clad in 'burqa' but drew rebuke from the Attorney General George Brandis, who said: “Senator Hanson, I’m not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in a burqa when we all know you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith."
“I would caution you and counsel you, Senator Hanson, with respect, to be very very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians,” Brandis said adding:
“We have about half a million Australians in this country of the Islamic faith, and the vast majority of them are law abiding, good Australians, and Senator Hanson, it is absolutely consistent with being a good law abiding Australian and a strict, adherent, Muslim.”
Brandis reminded Hanson that as attorney general, he held pre-eminent portfolio responsibility for national security, and the advice from intelligence agencies was clear – countering the risks of extremism required close cooperation with the Islamic community.
“To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments, is an appalling thing to do, and I would ask you to reflect on your behavior.”
The One Nation leader appeared in burqa at the question hour session of the Senate. Her question to Brandis was: “In light of our national security of this nation, will [the government] work with me to actually ban the burqa in Australia considering there have been 13 foiled national threats against us with terrorism, three that have been successful that Australians have lost their lives?
“Terrorism is a true threat to our country. Many Australians are in fear of it. What I would like to ask on behalf of the Australian people, considering there has been a large majority of Australians wish to see the banning of the burqa,” Hanson asked.
“Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa,” Brandis told her.
Hanson wins on anti-Islam agenda
Pauline Hanson won Senate seat in July 2016 elections on an anti-Islam agenda. The Washington Post reported on August 26, 2016: (Paul Hanson's) resurgence after years in the political wilderness is a striking example of how the xenophobic populism that helped Donald Trump win the Republican presidential nomination in the United States is reshaping politics in other countries, too.
The Washington Post pointed out than Hanson policies and rhetoric echo those of Trump and the U.K. Independence Party, which successfully championed the recent vote to take Britain out of the European Union.
The party wants an inquiry into whether Islam is a religion or an ideology, an end to Muslim immigration, a ban on the burqa in public, surveillance in all mosques and Islamic schools, no new mosques and the end of halal certification of food.
“Australia for Australians,” One Nation’s website proclaims:
To stop the teaching and infiltration of Islam and its totalitarian ideology, that opposes our democracy, way of life and laws. To ban the Burqa in public places, government buildings and schools. To make genital mutilation of young girls a criminal offence, carrying heavy sentences. To stop Islamists and their families from receiving welfare benefits; we are a Christian country, only one marriage is recognized. Ban the building of any more Mosques. (Objective No. 21)
To oppose Sharia Law ever being allowed in Australia. We are a Christian country with one law for all. (Objective No. 22)
To implement a food labelling system that is conducive as to the origin of the product, Australian made or foreign. Halal certification has no place in Australia when unsuspecting Australians are forced to fund Islamic Mosques and schools. One Nation would stop the practice of Halal Certification on all products, service, and machinery in Australia, other than for export. (Objective No. 24)
According to Australian journalist, Ian Lloyd Neubauer:
"Hanson first came to prominence 20 years ago on a broad anti-establishment, anti-free trade, anti-immigration ticket when she became the country's first independent female member of parliament.
"In her now famous maiden speech to parliament in 1996, Hanson warned that "we are in danger of being swamped by Asians … [who] have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate".
"To some, Hanson seemed to be a reminder of an ugly white past Australia was trying to forget. And while race remains the cornerstone of Hanson's politics, she has switched from targeting Asians to targeting Muslims.
"You can't deny the fact that in these mosques they have been known to preach hate towards us. Is that a society that we want to live in?" Hanson said at her pre-election press conference. "Do you want to see terrorism on our streets here? Do you want to see our Australians murdered?"
"Don't bury your head in the sand, and think this is not going to happen. We only have to look at other countries around the world," she told Australian TV during her senate launch in June. "Let's determine if it is a religion or a political ideology trying to undermine our culture."
Her first speech to the Senate, in September 2016, ran for half an hour. Australia is now “swamped by Muslims” Hanson told the Senate, and declared that “Islam cannot have a significant presence in Australia if we are to live in an open, secular and cohesive society.”
She added: “I call for stopping further Muslim immigration and banning the burqa as they have done in many countries around the world.”
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America
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