Australian Senator Fraser Anning’s response to the Christchurch terror attack was a disgrace. It was a disgrace to Australians and our government, the letterhead of which was used in the statement, it was a disgrace to those of Islamic faith and New Zealanders as a whole, and most damningly it was a disgrace to the memory of the innocent victims that parted from us yesterday. Anning does not deserve to be a member of our Parliament, he deserves to face the full force of the consequences of his actions and the role people like him play in causing events like this to occur.
Everyone I know has been deeply saddened by what happened in Christchurch. Most politicians in our country have added their voices in offering condolences and condemning the violence that took place in two mosques during prayers inside. Even Scott Morrison in his address referred to it as a terrorist attack, which surprised me, and while he and his party are still complicit in contributing to the division that led to this kind of attack, it is a little heartening that he at least recognised it for what it was.
Anning, in his statement, gave a sentence of condemnation for the “gunman”, then proceeded to shift into a plethora of false and divisive rhetoric against Muslims – the very same rhetoric that inspires people like the perpetrators of the Christchurch incident. He also took a moment to accuse “left wing” media and politicians for touting “cliched nonsense” when they rightfully bring up today’s toxic variant of nationalism and gun laws as partial causes for these types of events.
He starts off by claiming that there is a “growing fear in our community”, referring to both Australia and New Zealand, that is due to the increased intake of Muslim immigrants. In Australia, Muslims made up 2.6% of the population in the 2016 Census, and in New Zealand they were a mere 1.18% in the 2013 Census (the 2018 Census is delayed). These are tiny numbers, and do not support the idea that there is an unbridled growth in the Muslim population. And yet he blamed that very thing as the direct cause for the bloodshed, “Muslim fanatics” being allowed into the country. FALSE.
In the next paragraph he acknowledges that Muslims were indeed the victims today, but said they were usually the perpetrators “killing in the name of their faith on an industrial scale.” A clear reference to extremist groups like ISIS, or lone wolf attacks by radicalised members of society (it seems the hypocrisy in his selective outrage does not register with him). But as anyone with any knowledge of history would understand, terrorist organisations like that use religion merely as a recruiting tool, a false pretext, and in the media it is used as a scapegoat. The destruction of the Arab world since the end of World War I has been a political and corporate venture, resulting in the death and displacement of millions due to Western intervention, most notably the US in recent decades.
Groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS came to power in response to the US’ intervention and inability to maintain the situation after they decided to abandon the region. Sure, there are some fundamentalist fanatics that truly do believe in their insane religious conceptions (with no basis in the actual Islamic faith at all), but its origins and continuous cause has always been political. Again, selective outrage; I would like to know what he thinks of the fact that Saudi Arabia, the centre of Islamic extremism that is known to fund and arm ISIS and commits war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen, is sold weapons to the tune of billions and billions by the US, UK, etc. I doubt he would ever accuse Trump of being an instigator of terror, despite the fact the US is so embedded in the business of war it coins the term military industrial complex. But no, he claims that it is Muslims and the Islamic faith alone that commits such atrocities across the world. FALSE.
In the next paragraph, he calls Islam a militaristic ideology led by a despot that calls for the justifiable death of all those who do not believe. I know too little about Muhammed and his life to comment on him specifically, but I know enough about religion in history to understand that violence and control was a core part of most religions at the time, especially the three Abrahamic one – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Israelites in the Old Testament were brutal, the spread of Islam was indeed violent at times, and the Catholic Church declared their Crusades the will of God (a sentiment George W. Bush repeated when he claimed God told him to invade Iraq). Again, religion has been used as a pretext for so many violent actions, both in the past and now, that it is staggering how many people do not see it for what it is – a pretext. Each of the above examples had political and economic explanations that are generally forgotten. The majority in all faiths are peaceful and innocent people, and those who use it as a shield for atrocities, fanatics in Anning’s words, are not bound to a particular religion. It is a very human failing and deception.
He then compares Islam as the religious equivalent of fascism. One would almost forget that Anning was the one who quoted Hitler in his maiden speech to Parliament that made even Pauline Hanson uneasy, calling for a “final solution” and inflaming white supremacist rhetoric. The most despicable part of the statement is what follows on from that. “And just because the[y]… were not the killers… does not make them blameless.” He flips the blame around from the white supremacist terrorist to the innocent people who were gunned down in prayer. He then had the audacity to quote the Bible, and let me be perfectly clear: if you are a Christian of any denomination and agree with anything Anning spits out, I hope you realise the Hell you believe in is open for you. He quotes the book of Matthew: “all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword”. He ends the statement by saying that they (Muslims) “cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind.”
They. Were. At. Prayer. Innocent lives lost and this man dares say that they deserved it simply because of their faith. He dares say that the filth who slaughtered them did so as a justifiable response to the actions of an extreme minority in another part of the world. Well I dare say he is not fit to be a member of our Parliament, that he is no human which I will accept as sane or decent. His rhetoric, his actions, help fuel events like this. He and his ilk are directly complicit in the murder that took place in Christchurch, and will be so in all future attacks like this.
Today during a talk, a teenager broke an egg on Anning’s head. While that was probably a rather stupid thing to have done, by Anning’s own logic, the Senator deserved it for his actions. It was an egg, silly but harmless, and Anning’s response was to strike at the child a few times, and some in the crowd took the kid to the ground in a chokehold, claiming citizen’s arrest – a reaction far too violent and disproportionate to an act that is usually considered a prank. The boy was released by the police within an hour with no charges, and videos of the incident went viral. Anning, for his response, is a hypocrite and is not fit to be in such a powerful position. To retaliate by attacking a child should see him sacked and charged – many are asking why he is not already facing charges. The thugs that held the kid down should be questioned too, as they do nothing but further prove that Anning’s supporters are aggressive and reactionary fools.
There is a petition to call for his removal as a Senator, which has gone from 313,000 to 340,000 in the time it took me to write this piece, a little under two hours. It is growing fast, and even if it does not result in public pressure to have him removed, it shows that the people of Australia reject him and his message. We are ashamed of his presence in our Parliament.