Senator blaming Muslims for attack faces censure
CANBERRA, Australia (AP):
An Australian senator had a raw egg cracked over his head and faces censure from his fellow lawmakers after sparking outrage by blaming Muslim immigration for the New Zealand mosque shootings.
Senator Fraser Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets on Friday, including one that said, “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”
“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration programme which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” he said in a statement.
Television cameras caught a 17-year-old boy breaking an egg on Anning’s head and briefly scuffling with the independent senator while he was holding a news conference Saturday in Melbourne.
Police said the boy was arrested but was released without charge pending a further investigation. No motive was offered for the egging.
The government and opposition party agreed to pass a censure motion against Anning over his stance on the Christchurch shootings when Parliament resumes in April.
While such a reprimand is a symbolic gesture, the major parties expect to demonstrate how isolated Anning’s views are among Australia’s 226 federal lawmakers. The major parties’ support ensures the censure motion will be passed by both chambers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he denounced Anning’s comments.
“In his conflation of this horrendous terrorist attack with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically — these comments are appalling and they’re ugly and they have no place in Australia, in the Australian Parliament,” Morrison said. “He should be, frankly, ashamed of himself.”
Bilal Rauf, spokesman for the Australian National Imams Council, the nation’s top Muslim group, likened the senator’s views to the rambling manifesto published online by suspect Brenton Tarrant before the slayings.
“When one looks at his statement, it may as well have been an extract from the manifesto of the person that perpetrated these heinous crimes, this act of terrorism in Christchurch,” Rauf said.
Rauf said Anning was unfit for the Senate.
Opposition lawmaker Penny Wong accused Anning of attempting to use the tragedy to grab attention ahead of elections in May.
Anning only received 19 votes in the last election in 2016.