'Sickening', Islamophobic remarks by Australian senator Fraser Anning after Christchurch attack, says Shanmugam

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam described the comments by a right-wing Australian senator following the Christchurch mosque attack as "sickening" and Islamophobic.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam described the comments by a right-wing Australian senator following the Christchurch mosque attack as "sickening" and Islamophobic.ST PHOTO: SAHIBA CHAWDHARY

SINGAPORE - Remarks by a far-right Australian senator after the Christchurch terror attack were "sickening" and Islamophobic, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam said that the comments by senator Fraser Anning described Islam as a violent, fascist religion promoting savage beliefs.

The senator also attacked the Prophet and blamed Muslim immigration for the massacre, Mr Shanmugam added in the Facebook post on Friday night (March 15).

"The senator's statement is sickening. It is completely unacceptable. And he issued it when people are grieving," he said, adding that "our prayers are with the victims and their families".

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the 49 victims were from across the Muslim world.

She said her government was working with consular officials from countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In a statement released just hours after the attack, Mr Anning condemned the gunman but said that "usually (Muslims) are the perpetrators".

"The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place," the senator from Australia's Queensland said.

Citing a verse from the Bible, he added that "those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind".

Australian politicians have denounced his remarks. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the remarks were "disgusting".

"Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament," he said in a Facebook post.

Similarly, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Mr Anning's as "contemptible", and called him a "disgrace to the Senate".

"By spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other he is doing exactly what the terrorists want," he said on Twitter.

Mr Shanmugam's Friday Facebook post noted that New Zealand is a peaceful country and is seen as a model of race relations, and that most people cannot imagine this happening in the country.

 
 
 

He also noted that the terrorist had released an "extreme, violent message" just before the attack.

"It is heart-breaking that people, praying in a mosque, should be mowed down."

Other Singapore leaders have also expressed their condolences

President Halimah Yacob strongly condemned the attack in a letter to New Zealand Governor-General Patsy Reddy, and called it a “senseless act of violence against innocent civilians at places of worship”.

“On behalf of the people of Singapore, I convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, and wish those injured a swift recovery,” she added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a letter to Ms Ardern: “This heinous act is an attempt to spread fear and hatred. We must not allow such acts to divide our societies.” 

He added that Singapore stands in solidarity with New Zealand in the fight against terrorism. 

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also extended his condolences to New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters.

The terrorist, Australia-born self-professed fascist Brenton Tarrant, 28, was charged with murder in court on Saturday.

He had released a lengthy document titled The Great Replacement, in which he said he wanted to kill Muslims based on a conspiracy theory that European populations were being displaced by immigrant groups.