An Australian senator who implied that Muslims are to blame for the attacks on New Zealand mosques has stood by his remarks, accusing the government of hypocrisy. Over one million people have signed a petition for him to resign.
Queensland Senator Fraser Anning has remained defiant in the face of an avalanche of criticism and calls for his resignation over his controversial remark on the Christchurch massacre. In a statement released on the same day when 50 people were gunned down by white supremacist attacker Brenton Tarrant, Anning suggested that the tragedy highlighted “the growing fear over an increasing Muslim presence” in New Zealand.
“What people took out of context I think was that in the same press release I said that the countries that allow a large-scale Muslim immigration invariably have escalations in crime, violence and terrorist attacks,” Anning said Sunday.
“Now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a statement of fact and for some reason I have upset a lot of people, including Mr Morrison,” the independent senator said, effectively doubling down on his previous remark that landed him in hot water.
In a pointed swipe at Morrison and his government, Anning accused the PM of being a hypocrite for not paying as much attention to the plight of Christians facing Muslim attackers.
“In the last 30 days, there have been 122 terrorists attacks by Muslims on innocent Christians and other civilians in 21 different countries, killing 859 people. There has been deafening silence from Mr Morrison and from the media on those points.”
Asked whether he regrets the timing of his statement, Anning said he did not regret “anything.” The lawmaker, who was expelled from his most-recent party over his right-wing views, also defended getting physical with the teenage protester.