Australian Senator Calls for Public Ban on Burqa

Senator Pauline Hanson wears a burqa during question time in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.
Jed Cooper/Australian Broadcasting Corp. via AP

Australian Senator Pauline Hanson has called for a ban on all Islamic full-face coverings, otherwise known as the burqa, in public places.

“Are we that pathetic as a nation that we’re giving up our values and who we truly are because we’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings?” Pauline Hanson, the leader of the right-wing One Nation party, said in Parliament.

Hanson, who last month caused controversy after she wore the full face Islamic veil known as the burqa in a session of the country’s senate, also suggested holding a referendum on the matter, referencing Australia’s recent vote on same-sex marriage.

“If you’re quite happy to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, then I suggest having a plebiscite and let the people have a say at the next election on whether they want full-face coverings in this country, if you haven’t got the guts to do it here.”

A poll in August also found that a large majority (56%) of Australians support a burqa ban.

Hanson’s idea also received support from members of Australia’s Conservative Party, with MP Cory Bernardi describing it as an indicator of radical Muslim beliefs.

“If you want to identify where the radical threats are in your society, look for the individual wearing the burqa,” Bernardi said. “No moderate Muslim wears the burqa. They are fundamentalists.”

“This is a cultural export from the woman-hating regime in Saudi Arabia,” he added. “It sends a message to every Australian: ‘I do not want to be part of you.’”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously ruled out any suggestion of banning the burqa, despite widespread support. A parliamentary debate on the issue has consequently been postponed by a majority of senators until a later date.

“It is not something my government would support or propose,” Turnbull said last year. “Obviously what you’re seeing in Europe is the consequences of uncontrolled, irregular migration. The Europeans regrettably lost control of their borders. That is why it is vital for us to maintain the security and integrity of our borders.”

In recent years, a number of European countries have chosen to ban the burqa, including Austria, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Germany recently approved a partial ban, as well as a package of security measures aimed at preventing extremist attacks.

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