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Pauline Hanson
Sen. Pauline Hanson, bottom left, wears a burqa in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Aug. 17, 2017. Lukas Coch—AP

An Anti-Muslim Australian Senator Wore a Burqa in Parliament. It Didn't Go Down Well

Aug 17, 2017

(CANBERRA, Australia) — An Australian senator provoked an angry backlash from lawmakers by wearing a burqa in Parliament on Thursday as part of her campaign for a national ban on Islamic face covers.

Pauline Hanson, leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration One Nation minor party, sat wearing the black head-to-ankle garment for more than 10 minutes before taking it off as she rose to explain that she wanted such outfits banned on national security grounds.

"There has been a large majority of Australians (who) wish to see the banning of the burka," said Hanson, an outspoken fan of President Donald Trump, as senators objected.

Attorney-General George Brandis drew applause when he said his government would not ban the burqa, and chastised Hanson for what he described as a "stunt" that offended Australia's Muslim minority.

"To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done," Brandis said.

Opposition Senate leader Penny Wong told Hanson: "It is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith; it is another to wear it as a stunt here in the Senate."

Sam Dastyari, an opposition senator and an Iranian-born Muslim, said: "We have seen the stunt of all stunts in this chamber by Sen. Hanson."

"The close to 500,000 Muslim Australians do not deserve to be targeted, do not deserve to be marginalized, do not deserve to be ridiculed, do not deserve to have their faith made some political point by the desperate leader of a desperate political party," Dastyari said.

Senate President Stephen Parry said Hanson's identity had been confirmed before she entered the chamber. He also said he would not dictate the standards of dress for the chamber.

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