An Australian senator has provoked outrage after blaming immigration for the mosque shootings in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and called the shootings a terrorist attacks. At least 49 people were killed in Christchurch and another 20 were seriously injured.
But Fraser Anning, a senator in Queensland, has issued a statement describing the terror attacks as “vigilantism” and claiming that Muslim immigration was to blame for the atrocity.
Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?
— Senator Fraser Anning (@fraser_anning) March 15, 2019
“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within out community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman,” he wrote.
“However, whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.”
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The statement was immediately criticised by people in Australia and New Zealand, as well as others around the world, including Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) March 15, 2019
Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said: “Fraser Anning’s comments today are contemptible.
“He is a disgrace to the Senate and what is worse by spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other he is doing exactly what the terrorists want.”
Fraser Anning’s comments today are contemptible. He is a disgrace to the Senate and what is worse by spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other he is doing exactly what the terrorists want.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) March 15, 2019
Another user responded to Mr Anning directly, saying: “You’re an embarrassment. The people of Queensland deserve better than you. A literal piece of **** would suffice.”
Paul Brislen responded to Mr Anning: “I don’t know who you are but you’re a ****wit of the highest order.
“The good news is New Zealand is better than that and we stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim whanau,” he added, using the Maori word for extended family.
Another user said: “Maggots like Fraser Anning are directly responsible for this violence.
“They give platforms to racists, white-supremacists. They embolden and encourage these overwhelmingly right-wing, white men.
“They all share the same dream, a white ethnostate.”
Mr Anning has previously been criticised for his perceived racism, including using the phrase “final solution” as part of his proposals on immigration.
The phrase “final solution” is most often known as a euphemism used by the Nazis through the Holocaust during the Second World War.