Activism

Petition to have senator removed after his New Zealand comments becomes the largest in Australian history

In the wake of his comments regarding the Christchurch mosque shooting, a petition is circulating to remove Queensland Senator Fraser Anning from the Australian Parliament. The petition has reached over 1 million signatures, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Anning drew outrage in a statement he released in response to the shooting which has now left 50 people dead, where he said that while he’s opposed to violence in any form, “what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.”

Many saw his words as an attempt to rationalize the killer’s actions, and Sydney doctor Kate Ahmad and Melbourne author Harris Sultan decided to take action. Within an hour of each other, the two launched their own petitions calling for Anning to be removed. Their petitions later merged and became the largest online petition in Australia’s history.

The petition is not only the largest, it’s also the fastest growing. According to the executive director of change.org Sally Rugg, almost 250,000 people signed up in the first 18 hours.

“It shows that Australians don’t tolerate extreme hate speech and the attitude that Senator Anning has displayed,” Ahmad said.

Although Australian law doesn’t allow for the removal of politicians unless they’ve committed a provable crime, Ahmad said that the petition was intended to drive home a point.

“It’s to make clear that this kind of hate speech won’t be accepted by the community or the country as a whole, that there are repercussions for this behavior,” she told the Herald. “Politics has degenerated to the point where extreme views have become mainstream and have a veneer of legitimacy. It’s a problem we have an elected member of parliament like this and he must take responsibility for his actions.”

The petition’s description states that Anning’s comments have “no place in the government of our democratic and multicultural country. We request that he be expelled from his position as senator, and investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right-wing terrorism.”

There are other forms of protest against Anning that people are choosing as well. This Saturday, a teenager broke an egg over the back of Anning’s head. Later that day, someone recorded themselves confronting Anning at a Melbourne airport, asking him, “Don’t you have any remorse?”

The Australian government passed a censure motion against Anning over his remarks, which will be voted on in April.

Featured image via screen grab 

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