On Thursday, August 17, 2017, Australian Senator of Queensland Pauline Hanson strode into the Australian senate garbed head to toe in black, evoking both outrage and applause. Hanson is the founder of the right-wing One Nation Party, a nationalist populist political organization that has suffered discriminatory inflation for the purchase of campaign materials. As Hanson sat among her political peers, she proclaimed:
“I’m quite happy to remove this, because this is not what should belong in this Parliament… in light of our national security of this nation, will you work to ban the burqa in Australia? … Terrorism is a true threat to our country. Many Australians are very much in fear of it. But, 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.
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Naturally, Hanson’s stunt evoked nothing more than some chuckles and chiding from the Liberal party, and perhaps no anti-populist rhetoric was poured upon her more than that from the mouth of George H. Brandis, the Australian Attorney-General and Liberal politician on the Australian senate representing Queensland. In a short session of blatant virtue signaling, Brandis railed against Hanson, calling her actions “
“No, we will not be banning the burqa. Now, Sen. Hanson, I’m not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in a burqa when we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith. And I would caution you, and counsel you, Sen. Hanson, with respect, to be very, very careful of the offense you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians. We have about half a billion Australians in this country of the Islamic faith, and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians, and, Sen. Hanson, it is absolutely consistent with being a good law-abiding Australian and being a strict, adhering Muslim.”
Oddly enough, Brandis’s information seems to be misguided in his response, as there are not “half a billion” Muslims in Australia. In fact, according to Pew Research, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the entire world, and a claim such as Brandis’s would infer that approximately a third of this population resides in the Oceanic country of Australia. In fact, only 2.6% of the Australian population adheres to the Muslim faith, meaning that out of the 23 million Australian citizens, between 500,000 and 600,000 are Muslims. In fairness, perhaps the Attorney-General had intended to say “half a million” and had found himself tongue-tied before Hanson’s act of defiance against the Liberal Party.