Greens candidate 'sickened and disturbed' by racist flyer campaign

Alex Bhathal Source: Facebook

A Melbourne Greens candidate says she won’t be intimidated by flyers distributed in her electorate that attack her Sikh faith and describe her as an 'extremist'.

A Sikh woman running in the Victorian seat of Batman has been targeted in a racist flyer delivered to letterboxes in her electorate.

The flyer describes Alex Bhathal, a Greens candidate, as a "militant Sikh extremist" who supports "Khalistan terrorist movement” to create a "racist nation".

Furthermore it brands Sikhism as "violent, racist and homophobic" and says males Sikhs "carry daggers for beheadings and genital mutilation".

Ms Bhathal told SBS she was "sickened and disturbed" by the material but had been inspired to speak out against racism by people such as Adam Goodes.

"In the past we’ve been told that we should take these kind of attacks on the chin and just get on with things and I think now we're maturing as a nation and as a multicultural society, and that people are being very brave in standing up against this kind of stuff," she said.

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Ms Bhathal told SBS the attacks against Sikhism contained in the flyer were distressing and untrue.

"Sikhism is a progressive and humanist religion," she said.

"We actually are founded on a tenant of respecting all faiths and we believe all people are created equal".

Ms Bhathal has reported the material - which is unauthorised - to the Australian Electoral Commission, and is now attempting to lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

She said the latter was difficult because she needed to include a respondent on the complaint, and is calling for help from the public to help identify those responsible.

She said it was not clear whether the flyer was an attempt to discredit her or a "purely racist attack".

And she had a message for those responsible:

"I'm not intimidated by this," she said. 

"I believe you should be ashamed of yourself. You obviously are ashamed of yourself because you haven’t been able to publicly come out and do this. You're hiding behind anonymity.

"It certainly has not shifted my commitment to a multicultural Australia and to my faith as a Sikh."

Among those running against Ms Bhathal for the seat of Batman are Labor's David Feeney and Liberal George Souris.

Do you know more? Email Sylvia.varnham@sbs.com.au

Source SBS News

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