Australia

'If he has any dignity left, he should resign': Anning petition tops 1.3 million

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A petition calling for the senator to be dumped over his anti-Muslim comments about the Christchurch attacks has been presented to the Greens to table in Parliament.

An Australian man who started a petition to kick Senator Fraser Anning out of Parliament over his anti-Muslim comments believes he should resign after collecting more than 1.3 million signatures. 

Handing over the petition on Thursday to Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Australia's first female Muslim Senator, Melbourne writer Harris Sultan said the independent Queensland senator could not ignore that many people. 

"If he has any dignity left, he should resign from his position himself," Mr Harris told SBS News. 

Harris Sultan and Kate Ahmad handed over the petition signed by 1.3 million people on Wednesday morning.
Harris Sultan and Kate Ahmad handed over the petition signed by 1.3 million people on Wednesday morning.
SBS News

Mr Sultan has never started a petition before, but when he heard what the former One Nation candidate said on the day of the Christchurch attacks, he said he felt compelled to do something. 

Part of his statement released following the massacre said 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".

"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," it continued. 

Fraser Anning has come under widespread criticism for his comments following the Christchurch attacks.
Fraser Anning has come under widespread criticism for his comments following the Christchurch attacks.
AAP

Mr Harris, who has Muslim family members, said: "It was very hurtful when Fraser Anning said what he said". 

"He basically condemned my entire family and said they shouldn't be in Australia when they are living in Australia peacefully and paying taxes like anyone else." 

Mr Harris said he had been overwhelmed by the response to the petition, which was merged with another on the same topic, started by Sydney doctor Kate Ahmad. 

"The Australia that I know and love has values, values that promote peace and harmony, love and tolerance and this petition has proved in a very loud voice that we don't abandon our values, we don't abandon the ship, we don't let go of our communities or values in difficult times," Mr Harris said.  

Senator Anning said on Monday he had no regrets about the comments he made and would await the result of the federal election in May. 

Greens seize on loophole to push for expulsion

Senator Faruqi said she would table the petition when Parliament returned at the start of April, before the Greens moved to use a parliamentary process to suspend Senator Anning for the remaining two sitting weeks. 

"Together we can actually give the boot to politicians like Fraser Anning who trade in bigotry and hate speech," Senator Faruqi said.

While Parliament no longer has the power to expel an elected politician, it can suspend them.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, the first ever Punjabi migrant in Australia's federal parliament
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, the first ever Punjabi migrant in Australia's federal parliament
David Foote/Auspic

A suspension is usually for a matter of hours, but the Greens have obtained legal advice saying there's no rule preventing the suspension from being much longer. 

The move would require the support of the major parties. 

"Fifty people have been massacred by a white nationalist terrorist from Australia. If we don't draw the line when will we?" Senator Faruqi said.

The Greens have also proposed a code of conduct for parliamentarians that would prohibit hate speech.

Senator Faruqi has accused conservative politicians including Prime Minister Scott Morrison of "dog whistling" on refugees and migration. 

"They have not been listening and they're not even listening now. I'm still grieving but I also feel a little bit of despair in our politicians.

"Where hope is coming from is the community. People from across the spectrum in the community have shown solidarity with the Muslim community now and it is those people who will make sure that we make politicians accountable."

Mr Morrison has denounced the man charged over the Christchurch attacks and urged Australians to come together to stamp out extremism. 

 

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