Australian far-right Senator Pauline Hanson donned a burqa in Parliament on Thursday in her bid to ban the full-body garment worn by some Muslim women. The stunt drew a sharp rebuke from the government and followers of the Islamic faith.
For 20 minutes on Thursday, Hanson sat in her assembly seat wearing the black burqa before removing it to call for the style of dress to be prohibited in public.
“I’m quite happy to remove this because this is not what should belong in this parliament,” Hanson, leaders of Australia’s far-right One Nation party, told the Senate, according to Reuters.
“If a person who wears a balaclava or a helmet in to a bank or any other building, or even on the floor of the court, they must be removed. Why is it not the same case for someone who is covering up their face and cannot be identified?”
Hanson has campaigned against Islamic dress and the construction of mosques in recent years after rising to prominence in the 1990s for her fierce opposition to immigration from Asia.
Her spectacle on Thursday drew a powerful response from Attorney General George Brandis:
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 that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith. I would caution you and counsel you Senator Hanson, with respect, to be very, very careful of the offense you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians. 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… It is absolutely consistent with being a good, law-abiding Australian and a strict, adherent Muslim.
Brandis’s voice quivered as he concluded his remarks: “To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you do.” The chamber erupted in applause as he finished, according to a clip of his speech tweeted by Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Koziol.
— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) August 17, 2017
Adel Salman, vice president of the Islamic Council of Victoria state, also denounced Hanson’s action as “a mockery of her position.””It is very disappointing, but not surprising as she has sought to mock the Islamic faith time and time again,” he said.