Senator Anning blasted for New Zealand mosque attack comment

Anning suggested a link existed between Muslim immigration and violence following mosque attack that killed 50 people.

    Senator Anning blasted for New Zealand mosque attack comment
    A teenager struck Anning on the head with an egg during a press conference last month [AP]

    The parliament in Australia has overwhelmingly voted to censure an independent far-right senator, Fraser Anning, for his "inflammatory and divisive comments" about the Christchurch mosque attacks.

    In a bipartisan motion, the Senate voted on Wednesday to censure Anning, saying his comments were "seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion" and does not reflect the opinions of the Senate or of Australians.

    Last month, a self-confessed Australian white supremacist killed 50 people in a terror attack on two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand.

    Following the attack, which was live streamed on Facebook, Anning suggested a link existed between Muslim immigration and violence.

    He later denounced the attack in New Zealand but insisted it represented what he called the "growing
    fear ... of increasing Muslim presence".

    "It is very important that the Parliament is unified in its condemnation of these appalling comments that have been made," Senator Mathias Cormann of the Liberal party said.

    "These comments were appalling and sadly made worse given Senator Anning's position in this Parliament and the platform he enjoys as a senator."

    Labor's Penny Wong said the senator blamed the victims "[when] families, friends, communities of those lost were still reeling from the shock", accusing Anning of embracing hate speech. 

    "While those injured were being treated, this senator sought to further fan the flames of division. How pathetic. Shameful and pathetic attempt by a bloke who has never been elected to get attention by exploiting diversity as a fault line for political advantage," said Wong.

    A teenager struck Anning on the head with an egg after his comments and the politician hit him twice in the face in response.

    An online petition calling for Anning's removal from the Senate has gained more than 1.4 million signatures, which has gone on parliament's permanent record. However, the Senate cannot remove a senator unless they are convicted of a crime or ruled ineligible.

    The gunman, Brenton Tarrant, will reappear in court this Friday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies