Saturday 20 April 2019

Australian senator attacked with egg after New Zealand tragedy comments

A teenager breaks an egg on the head of Senator Fraser Anning (AP)
A teenager breaks an egg on the head of Senator Fraser Anning (AP)

Rod McGuirk

An Australian senator had a raw egg cracked over his head and faces censure from fellow politicians after sparking outrage by blaming Muslim immigration for the New Zealand mosque shootings.

Sen Fraser Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets on Friday, including one that said: "Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?"

"The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place," he said in a statement.

Television cameras caught a 17-year-old boy breaking an egg on Mr Anning's head and briefly scuffling with the independent senator while he was holding a news conference on Saturday in Melbourne.

Police said the boy was arrested, but was released without charge pending a further investigation. No motive was offered for the egg attack.

The government and opposition party agreed to pass a censure motion against Mr Anning over his stance on the Christchurch shootings when Parliament resumes in April.

While such a reprimand is a symbolic gesture, the major parties expect to demonstrate how isolated Mr Anning's views are among Australia's 226 federal politicians.

The major parties' support ensures the censure motion will be passed by both chambers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he denounced Mr Anning's comments.

"In his conflation of this horrendous terrorist attack with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically - these comments are appalling and they're ugly and they have no place in Australia, in the Australian Parliament," Mr Morrison said. "He should be, frankly, ashamed of himself."

Bilal Rauf, spokesman for the Australian National Imams Council, the nation's top Muslim group, likened the senator's views to the rambling manifesto published online by suspect Brenton Tarrant before the slayings.

"When one looks at his statement, it may as well have been an extract from the manifesto of the person that perpetrated these heinous crimes, this act of terrorism in Christchurch," Mr Rauf said.

Mr Rauf said Mr Anning was unfit for the Senate.

Opposition politician Penny Wong accused Mr Anning of attempting to use the tragedy to grab attention ahead of elections in May.

Mr Anning only received 19 votes in the last election in 2016. But because of a quirk in the Australian electoral system, he was elevated to the Senate by the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim One Nation party after a court ruled that its senator, Malcolm Roberts, had not been eligible to run for election due to his dual citizenship.

Mr Anning later defected from One Nation to another anti-immigration party, then became an independent. Analysts say he is unlikely to be re-elected as an independent candidate in May.

Press Association

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