Yesterday’s stunt in the Senate was a new low even for the leader of One Nation.
Is this the ugly face of Australian racism?
It was an insult to all Muslims in Australia and it made a mockery of the processes of Parliament.
Attorney General Gordon Brandis was right to reject Hanson’s call for a ban on the burqa. It’s a naïve and simplistic solution to a deep-seated and complex problem.
A public ban on the burqa would be profoundly counter-productive.
In the first instance, it would deny a group of Islamic women access to all public places: kindergartens, schools, shops, libraries, medical services, public transport. Given that they have a primary role in the care of their children, this would have a profoundly disruptive effect on their families.
It’s difficult to know whether Hanson thinks that the women who currently wear the burqa will somehow appear in public not wearing it. If she does, she is hopelessly naïve. That won’t happen.
Such a ban would effectively place the women under permanent house-arrest as their families, particularly the men in the families, would not allow them to appear in public.
There would lead to immense anger and frustration not only in the more orthodox Islamic communities but also in the more moderate Islamic communities who would rightly feel that their religious beliefs were under attack.
Such a ban would also damage relationships between Islamic community groups, who are so important in helping combat the radicalisation of Islamic youth, and police and security agencies.
There is also the danger of civil disobedience and confrontation between extremist groups and Islamic protesters. The recent confrontations in Charlottesville are not vastly different from the scenes that we witnessed at Cronulla in 2015
Charlottesville and Cronulla: Is there really any difference?
For many people, the burqa is a symbol of the oppression of women. It is also a symbol of a number of aspects of Islam, such as female genital mutilation, that many Australians, Muslims included, find deeply repugnant. Unfortunately, nothing Pauline Hanson does is going to help solve such problems.
The oppression of women is a global problem, it is not limited to Islam.
If Pauline Hanson is serious about addressing it, she should open her eyes a little wider.