Australia bars Milo Yiannopoulos over mosque attack comments
Minister says far-right activist denied Australia visa over his social media response to the New Zealand mosque attacks.
Australia has denied a visa to far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos after he responded to a mosque massacre in the New Zealand city of Christchurch by branding Islam “barbaric” and “alien”.
David Coleman, Australia’s immigration minister, said in a statement on Saturday that Yiannopoulos’s social media comments were “appalling and foment hatred and division”.
“Milo Yiannopoulos will not be allowed to enter Australia for his proposed tour this year,” the statement said.
Coleman did not specify the comments he was referring to.
Yiannopoulos is a former editor of the US-based far-right website Breitbart news site who has regularly railed against Muslims, immigrants and the press.
On Friday, he said on Facebook that attacks like Christchurch happen because “the establishment panders to and mollycoddles extremist leftism and barbaric, alien religious cultures.”
At least 49 Muslim worshippers were killed and 40 more wounded on Friday when a gunman attacked two mosques in the southern city. Brenton Tarrant, an Australian-born 28-year-old man, was charged on Saturday with murder over the gun assaults, the worst ever mass shootings in New Zealand’s recent history.
In his statement, Coleman said the “terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out on Muslims peacefully practicing their religion.”
He added: “It was an act of pure evil.”
Australian media has reported that the government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison already decided in March not to grant a visa to Yiannopoulos, but then changed its position after protests from conservatives in the ruling Liberal Party.
Yiannopoulos’s speaking tours have sparked violent protests at universities in the past. During a 2017 event with Yiannopoulos in Melbourne, fights broke out between dozens of his supporters and anti-racism protesters.
He has been banned from Twitter and resigned as Breitbart editor in 2017 after comments in which he appeared to condone paedophilia.
Yiannopoulos responded to the visa ban in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying his comments were not “remotely objectionable”.
“I criticised the establishment for pandering to Islamic fundamentalism. So Australia banned me again,” he wrote.
Separately on Saturday, an Australian senator had a raw egg cracked over his head after he blamed Muslim immigration for the mosque shootings.
Television cameras caught a 17-year-old boy breaking an egg on Fraser Anning’s head and briefly scuffling with the independent senator at a news conference in Melbourne.
Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets on Friday including one that said; “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”
“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” he said in a statement.
Morrison, the prime minister, said he denounced Anning’s comments.
“In his conflation of this horrendous terrorist attack with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically – these comments are appalling and they’re ugly and they have no place in Australia, in the Australian Parliament,” Morrison said. “He should be, frankly, ashamed of himself.”
The government and opposition party agreed to pass a censure motion against Anning over his stance on the Christchurch shootings when parliament resumes in April.
Bilal Rauf, spokesman for the Australian National Imams Council, the nation’s top Muslim group, likened the senator’s views to the rambling manifesto published online by suspect Tarrant before the attacks.
“When one looks at his statement, it may as well have been an extract from the manifesto of the person that perpetrated these heinous crimes, this act of terrorism in Christchurch,” Rauf said.