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A far-right Australian senator sparked fury for “ridiculing” devout Muslims after wearing a burqa to parliament in a shocking stunt.
Pauline Hanson caused a stir by arriving to the question time session with her face fully covered by the black religious garment, as part of her campaign to have it banned.
The leader of the right-wing One Nation party has argued that the religious dress should not be allowed as it presents a risk to national security.
But her move was heavily criticised by rival politicians. Australia’s Attorney General chastised her for causing offence to the Islamic community.
In the extraordinary session, Attorney-General George Brandis sharply chastised Senator Hanson’s behaviour and made it clear the Government had no intention of banning the burqa.
He was met with applause when he said: “I am not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in a burqa.
“We all know that you are not adherent of the Islamic faith. I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.
“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 your behaviour.”
Ms Hanson sat in her seat in the assembly for about 20 minutes before removing the burqa and proclaiming: “I’m quite happy to remove this because this is not what should belong in this parliament.”
Smiling and seemingly pleased with the reaction she had provoked, she went on: “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?”
But Adel Salman, vice president of the Islamic Council of Victoria state, said Hanson’s action was “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.”
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