CANBERRA – Australian senator and leader of the right-wing One Nation party, Pauline Hanson, wore a burqa to the Senate chamber on Thursday in a bid to push for the burqa ban, on the grounds that wearing a burqa concealed the wearer’s identity and was therefore a security risk.
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The incident provoked the ire of the lawmakers with the Attorney General formally issuing a warning that the action may be offensive to the “religious sensibilities of other Australians”.
“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,” said Brandis in a video
The AG asked the legislator to reflect on her behavior as mocking religious garment was an “appalling” thing.
“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 [burqa] is absolutely consistent with being a good law abiding Australian and a strict, adherent, Muslim,” Brandis was quoted as saying.
For his remarks, Mr Brandis received a standing applause from opposition parties as well.
Earlier, during the questioning time, Hanson asked the attorney general if the government would work to ban the burqa “in light of [the country’s] national security”.
She pointed out that there have been 13 foiled terror attacks in Australia and three in which lives have been lost.
“Terrorism is a true threat to our country,” added Hanson, saying that she was speaking on “behalf of the Australian people”.
However, Brandis made it clear that Australia would not ban the burqa but Hanson’s motion to ban the garment will be debated in the Senate later today.
Hanson and her party are traditionally known for their Islamophobic tilt of politics.
Last year, amid deteriorating race relations and an escalating fear of violence, Hanson’s One Nation party called for a ban on Muslim immigration.
In 2015, she defended the ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies which called for a ban on the burqa and were criticized by rival protesters as anti-Muslim.
According to latest census figures, the Muslim population in Australia has soared to 604,000 people. The number of Muslims living in the country has almost doubled from 341,000 in the 2006 census.