Australian senator causes uproar by wearing Islamic veil to Parliament

Australian senator causes uproar by wearing Islamic veil to Parliament
Australian Sen. Pauline Hanson wore an Islamic burqa into Parliament to make her case about the need for a ban on full-face veils in pubic. Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa have instituted full or partial bans of full-face veils in recent years. (Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images)

Australian Sen. Pauline Hanson sent Parliament into a frenzy Thursday by entering the Senate chambers wearing a burqa, making a statement as part of her campaign to ban the traditional Islamic garb.

Hanson is the founder and leader of the right-wing nationalist One Nation Party, which was founded in 1997. She turned heads by entering the chamber late so her entrance would draw the maximum amount of attention.

After sitting quietly for a short time, Hanson confronted Liberal Senate leader George Brandis, imploring him to support her efforts to ban the burqa in Australia.

“I’m quite happy to remove this, because this is not what should belong in this Parliament,” Hanson said, according to Yahoo. “Senator Brandis, in light of the national security of this nation, will you work with me to ban the burqa in Australia. There has been 13 foiled national threats against us with terrorism, three that have been successful, and Australians have lost their lives.

“What I would like to ask on behalf of the Australian people, considering there has been a large majority of Australians wish to see the banning of the burqa,” Hanson said.

Hanson faced severe backlash and chastisement from her fellow senators for what Brandis called a “stunt.” Australia has a sizable Muslim population, which other senators said would be offended by the insincere use of their religious dress.

“I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offense you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians,” Brandis said. “We have about 500,000 Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians. Senator Hanson, it is absolutely consistent with being a good, law-abiding Australian and being a strict adherent Muslim.”

The subject of Islamic terrorism has been of growing concern in Australia, with several attacks taking place that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for. Two men were killed and three police officers shot in a hostage situation in Melbourne in June.

In 2014, an Islamic gunman took 18 people hostage in a Sydney cafe, and two people were killed before the gunman was killed by authorities. These events have increased the dialogue surrounding burqas and their implications for national security.

Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa have instituted full or partial bans of full-face veils in recent years. France and Belgium, for example, have national bans on full-face veils in public. Germany is among countries that have proposed bans.

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