Anger after far-right Australian senator blames terror attack on immigration
An Australian politician has provoked international outrage after he blamed immigration for a terror attack by a white supremacist which has left 49 dead in Christchurch, New Zealand.
At least 49 people have been killed and some 20 others left seriously injured after a carefully planned and unprecedented attack targetted two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday.
New Zealand's Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference that the suspects arrested held "extremist views".
One of those arrested, an Australian, was described by the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an "extremist right-wing, violent terrorist."
Queensland senator Fraser Anning quickly blamed the massacre on immigration, saying that whilst "vigilantism" is wrong, the real cause of the attacks was "immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place".
Anning has long held far-right views, and in a speech in the Australian parliament he made reference to a "final solution", which many believed to be imitating language used by the Nazi's during the Holocaust.
Anning had been due to join a cancelled far-right tour of Australia in 2018 alongside British-born extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson.
The senator's comments were quickly condemned across both the political spectrum and the world, with the Australian PM saying his views had no place in Australia. Other Australians said they "ashamed" to share a country with the politician and also signed a petition calling for his resignation.
The remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) 15 March 2019
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid also slammed the senators comments, accusing him of "fanning the flames" of extremism.
The Labour MP Stella Creasey also criticised his comments online: "The hatred shown by Senator Fraser Anning @fraser_anning to Muslims has no place in any nations politics and shames us all as politicians that he has platform as elected official to promote such views. You and your bile will never be welcome in the UK parliament sir #notinmyname"
Despite widespread condemnation, some pointed out that whilst Anning put his views more explicitly, many politicians and the rightwing press had in some ways legitimised the far right.
The Guardian columnist Owen Jones pointed to a segment produced by flagship BBC politics show Newsnight which discussed whether the far-right figure Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Tommy Robinson, and asked if was actually someone simply raising concerns which others ignore.
Tom Kibasi, the director of the IPPR think tank, said: "Hello @BBCNewsnight, just to say I really hope you’re feeling ashamed today. But more than that, I really hope you learn the lesson and change your editorial policies and never again feed far right narratives like you did with this image."
Hello @BBCNewsnight, just to say I really hope you’re feeling ashamed today. But more than that, I really hope you learn the lesson and change your editorial policies and never again feed far right narratives like you did with this image. #Newsnight #Christchurch pic.twitter.com/EPbmkp8w8y— Tom Kibasi (@TomKibasi) 15 March 2019
The journalist and broadcaster Ash Sarkar also highlighted the role of the rightwing press in contributing to the far right.
Muslim leaders across the world urged their communities to worship as normal as fear grew that other, similar attacks could be repeated elsewhere in order to target Friday prayers, one of the busiest days for mosques.
Image: Fight the far right