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Australian leader draws criticism for wearing burqa to Senate

Australian senator and leader of the right-wing One Nation party, Pauline Hanson, wore the burqa to the Senate chamber for the daily questioning time session on Thursday.

According to the daily, Hanson’s move — meant to push for a ban on the burqa — caused commotion in the chamber and drew strong criticism from Australian attorney general George Brandis who issued a warning that the action may be offensive to the “religious sensibilities of other Australians”.

“Senator 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 you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith,”

“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 your behaviour.”

“We have about half a million Australians in this country of the Islamic faith, and the vast majority of them are law abiding, good Australians, and Senator Hanson, it [burqa] is absolutely consistent with being a good law abiding Australian and a strict, adherent, Muslim,” Brandis was quoted as saying.

The attorney general made clear to the right-wing leader that there is no intention of banning the burqa as his remarks drew applause from those present in the chamber.

 During the questioning time, Hanson asked the attorney general if the government would work to ban the burqa “in light of [the country’s] national security”.

She pointed out that there have been 13 foiled terror attacks in Australia and three in which lives have been lost.

“Terrorism is a true threat to our country,” added Hanson, saying that she was speaking on “behalf of the Australian people”.

Hanson was called a “threat to national security” and a “disgrace” by Senator Sam Dastyari who, according the The Guardian, is a non-practicing Muslim of Iranian heritage.

Hanson left the Senate chamber after posing her question to the attorney general.

Last year, amid deteriorating race relations and an escalating fear of violence, Hanson’s One Nation party called for a ban on Muslim immigration

In 2015, she defended the “Reclaim Australia” rallies which called for a ban on the burqa and were criticised by rival protesters as anti-Muslim.

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Azhar Hashmi

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