Muslim leaders in Australia have pointed to public figures, politicians and media agencies for fuelling Islamophobia.
The comments follow mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday afternoon. The death toll stands at 50, with surgeons working through the night to help dozens of people injured in New Zealand’s worst terrorist attack.
Imam Council spokesman and barrister Bilal Rauf said Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s inflammatory comments about the NZ attacks were “precisely” what needed to be avoided.
In a long press release about the attacks, Senator Anning said “… while Muslims may be the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.
The senator was ‘egged’ in the head by a young man at a press conference on Saturday in what appeared to be retaliation for the comments.
“There is a sense of outrage, concern, and yes, a concern for safety,” Mr Rauf said during a meeting between Australian Muslim leaders and New South Wales Police on Saturday.
“I also call upon the media to please be measured and balanced in how they approach these things and be considered,” Mr Rauf said.
“While they may be words, words create a certain environment, they embolden certain people,” he said.
“They give them a platform or a sense of confidence that they can do certain things and here we stand talking to you about the tragedy that has occurred.”
The Muslim leader also underlined a culture of Islamophobia had been established long before 49 people had been killed in Christchurch.
“These things don’t happen overnight,” Mr Rauf said.
“They happen in a certain environment and let’s face it; there has been an environment of increasing division and Islamophobia,” he said.
Senator Fraser Anning gets egged
Senator Anning has been slammed and literally egged in the face after issuing a controversial press-release on Friday afternoon.
Footage shows a young man smashing an egg on Senator Anning while speaking to the media at a political meeting in Moorabbin in Melbourne’s south-east on Saturday.
Senator Anning swung two punches at the young man, while supporters of the senator tackled his attacker to the ground.
Police later led the young man away from the press conference.
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) March 16, 2019
“Worldwide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale,” Mr Anning said in his press release on Friday.
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program while allowing Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
“Police arrested a 17-year-old male from Hampton after he allegedly threw an egg at a 69-year-old Brisbane man at an address in Moorabbin this afternoon [Saturday] during a planned meeting,” Victoria Police said in a statement.
A funding page has been set up to collect donations to cover the teenager’s legal fees and to buy “more eggs”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the government will censure the senator, and the Coalition and Labor would pass a motion when Parliament returns next month.
“I would normally not want to give this oxygen, but I want to absolutely and completely denounce the statements made by Senator Anning … on this horrendous terrorist attack, with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically,” Mr Morrison said.
“These comments are appalling and they’re ugly and they have no place in Australia. In the Australian Parliament also. And he should be, frankly, ashamed of himself,” he said.