The Australia Day billboard removed on Thursday depicting two young Muslim girls in hijab is set to be re-instated after a crowd-funding project kick-started national support.
Sydney-based Campaign Edge executive creative director, Dee Madigan, created the GoFundMe page with support from anti-Islamophobia advocate Mariam Veiszadeh.
Ms Madigan, who said she had “no relationship with the two girls”, wrote on the GoFundMe page: “The same groups who complain ‘Muslims don’t assimilate’, complained about the photo OF AUSTRALIAN MUSLIMS CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA DAY.
“And due to this pressure the billboard was removed. If you or your business thinks this is not ok, please help us fund a billboard and print campaign featuring these two girls promoting Australia Day.”
The campaign initially set a target of $50,000 but had already reached $100,000 in the first 24 hours of its launch.
Ms Madigan told the ABC on January 18 that she was inspired to launch the campaign “after chatting with some friends last night, Muslim and non-Muslim, we just decided enough was enough.”
“We’ve started to book, I think we have booked, print ads from tomorrow, full-page print ads, as well as looking at billboards, hopefully, in all major cities.
“The very first person who donated to this was Tiyce Lawyers. That’s headed by Michael Tiyce, who’s the president of the East Sydney Liberal Party branch.
“So what’s so good about this is we’re trying to say “This isn’t Labor Party, this isn’t just Left, there’s just a whole lot of decent Australians.”
Please share and donateIn 2016 two young girls went down to Docklands in Melbourne to celebrate Australia Day. A photo…
The Australia Day electronic billboard was taken down from its Cranbourne site, in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, after the operators received death threats from far-right Anti-Islamic groups.
Ms Veiszadeh told Fairfax Media she had been in contact with the families of the girls whose image was used on the original billboard, and that they had been upset about the Islamophobic backlash.
She said she wanted to send a message to them and other Muslim girls to “be proud of who you are, be proud of your identity”.
“Unfortunately with the xenophobia we are seeing today, no minority group is spared. Some are copping it more than others, and we all have to band together,” she said.
Ms Madigan said she had received some nasty emails, telling the ABC: “I’ve got the usual amount of, you know, horrible emails and horrible tweets and, you know, horrible posts. No threats yet.”
“But I don’t care. They can threaten away. I don’t back down.”
Meanwhile, federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Melbourne radio station 3AW on January 19 that he thought the billboard was
“I think it’s great that we’ve got young boys, young girls from whatever background who are embracing Australian values, flying the Australian flag, proud to be Australian, proud to be part of our society, want to be part of a peaceful future in this country.”
“They’re all the values that all of us embrace.”
“People have different elements to their dress and their culture that they embrace,” he said.
“I think what most Australians expect from any of us from a migrant background, and ultimately that’s the case for most of us, is that we respect the culture from our country of origin but we embrace Australian values.”
As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe page had attracted $130,060.