GREENS MP Mehreen Faruqi, Australia’s first female Muslim MP, says the Reclaim Australia movement has legitimised “blatant, ugly” racism in Australia.
Dr Faruqi made the comments after receiving a racist tweet about a photo she shared on Twitter of a night out with her 19-year-old daughter.
“How beautiful is Brisbane river at night! Enjoying some quality time with my daughter,” she tweeted on Saturday night, after speaking on a panel about how to increase democratic engagement of the Muslim community.
User @wesi12 replied, “Before your husband blows it up?”
Photo: Mehreen Faruqi. Source: Twitter
Dr Faruqi posted the Twitter exchange to Facebook on Monday and said this is the sort of racism legitimised by movements like Reclaim Australia.
Reclaim Australia is an anti-Islamic group which led a series of protests across the country on July 19, with clashes between anti-Muslim and anti-racism demonstrators.
Dr Faruqi, who came to Australia from Pakistan in 1992 and was elected to NSW parliament in 2013, called the messages “vile” and “pretty hurtful”.
She told news.com.au this was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what many people, particularly Muslim women, were experiencing.
“Having lived in Australia for 23 years, in Sydney and regional NSW, being an engineer and raising two kids it does hurt that there are people who feel increasingly emboldened to say I don’t belong,” she said.
“In the past I have tried to just dismiss racist comments towards me and my family. But as the first Muslim woman in an Australian parliament I have been asked why someone like me would be involved in politics, because I’m ‘not even from here’, and it’s becoming much harder to ignore as the public rhetoric becomes more and more toxic.”
Dr Faruqi says the Reclaim Australia movement is stoking the fire of underlying racism in Australia and the risk needs to be taken seriously.
“It is really dangerous and unhelpful to dismiss the Reclaim movement as a tiny fringe group. Their rallies have been poorly attended but their hateful ideas have been gaining traction rapidly on social media and elsewhere,” she said.
Coalition MP George Christensen at the Take Back Australia Rally in Mackay on July 19. Photo: Daryl Wright Source:Supplied
Federal government MP George Christensen and former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson were among Reclaim Australia’s speakers at the rallies.
“We would be foolishly naive to think that we are not at war with radical Islam,” Mr Christensen told the rally on July 19, the ABC reported.
“Our voice says we will not surrender, we will not sit idly by and watch the Australian culture and the Australian lifestyle that we love, and that is envied around the world … we are not going to see that surrendered and handed over to those who hate us for who we are and what we stand for.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not publicly condemned the rallies or Mr Christensen.
Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said it was “extraordinary” that the PM would allow MPs to attend “racist” rallies, but prevent them from appearing on the ABC’s Q & A program.
Dr Faruqi says Australian politicians need to send a strong response to the leaders of the Reclaim movement.
“These people are not ‘patriots’ — they are racists, and they are deserving of our complete condemnation. Being Australian is about being welcoming and respectful of others. We should never forget that,” she said.
“Australia is generally a welcoming place with a lot of wonderful people — and I am a proud Australian — but that doesn’t mean we should let our collective guard down. We should always stand strongly against racism and xenophobia in our community.”
Dr Faruqi is the Transport and Status fo Women spokeswoman for the NSW Greens.
first appeared in News.com.au