Australian senator blames ‘Muslim presence’ for NZ shooting

A right-wing member of the Australian parliament blamed the murder of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Muslim immigration.

"I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman," said Queensland senator Fraser Anning in a written statement. "However, whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence."

"As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today's shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all cliched nonsense,” said Anning. “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place."

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Children ride camels after a grand Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Lekamba mosque in western Sydney on July 17, 2015. Australian Muslims on July 17 celebrated their religious Eid al-Fitr festival at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed Khan (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Sheikh Yahya Safi (C), Imam of Lekamba mosque, is greeted by the Labor party representative Tony Burke (3rd R) and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird (2nd L) after a grand Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Lekamba mosque in western Sydney on July 17, 2015. Australian Muslims on July 17 celebrated their religious Eid al-Fitr festival at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed Khan (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Sheikh Yahya Safi (bottom C), imam of the Lekamba mosque, leads an Eid al-Fitr prayer at the Lekamba mosque in western Sydney on July 17, 2015. Australian Muslims on July 17 celebrated their religious Eid al-Fitr festival at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed Khan (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Anning continued to say that Muslims are usually the perpetrators of violence and that Islam is “the religious equivalent of fascism.” As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. A 2018 United Nations report found that ISIS had roughly 30,000 members, which translates to 0.00001875 percent of the global Islamic population.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned Anning’s comments.

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“The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting,” said Morrison. “Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull echoed the sentiment.

“Fraser Anning’s comments today are contemptible,” said Turnbull. “He is a disgrace to the Senate and what is worse by spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other he is doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

Anning earned just 19 first-place votes in the 2016 election but he took over the seat in 2017 after one of the initial winners was kicked out of the Senate for being a British citizen at the time of his election. He entered the legislature as a member of the far-right nationalist Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party but switched parties to Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) shortly after being sworn in.

The Queensland senator has previously faced criticism for proposing legislation that would have restricted non-European immigration and banned Muslim migrants and for referencing Nazi policy by touting a “final solution to the immigration problem.” The KAP was initially punished for not denouncing Anning’s “final solution” speech but eventually expelled him for the comments.

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