Australian senator argues for burqa ban in public places
AN Australian senator who a month ago provoked an angry backlash by wearing a burqa in Parliament urged lawmakers on Thursday to ban fullface Islamic coverings in public places.
Pauline Hanson, leader of the antimuslim, anti-immigration One Nation minor party, was arguing for proposed laws that she introduced into the Senate that would make wearing full-face coverings an offense punishable by a 4,200 Australian dollar ($3,400) fine. Compelling others to wear such coverings would carry a prison sentence of up to six months and an AU$42,000 fine. She proposes several exempt circumstances including entertainment and sport.
Three senators including Hanson argued over her bill before a majority of senators shut down debate until a later date.
Hanson, an outspoken fan of President Donald Trump, sat in the Senate last month wearing black head-toankle garments for more than 10 minutes before removing the veil.
Her actions were widely condemned by senators as insulting to Muslims, although it sparked public debate for and against her actions across Australia for days later.
“My reasoning to wear the burqa into this chamber was seen as a stunt, call it what you want, I really don’t care,” Hanson told the Senate on Thursday.
“Because the whole fact is that it’s got Australians talking and Australians feel now they have a voice and it’s created debate,” she added.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out his conservative government ever banning Islamic face coverings.
But government’s A BOAT crowded with construction workers capsised in the Yamuna River in northern India early Thursday and at least 19 people have drowned, officials said.
A search is underway for missing passengers, said senior police officer Ram Kumar.
More than 60 people were on the boat when it capsized near Baghpat town in Uttar Pradesh state early Thursday.
At least 10 people swam to safety while about 31 passengers are missing. Nineteen bodies had been pulled out of the river, Kumar said.
Authorities were investigating, though they believe overcrowding was a likely cause. The boat had a capacity for only 35 passengers, said district magistrate Bhawani Singh.
The workers crossed the river every day to their place of work in Baghpat, Singh said.
Accidents are common in India as many ferries are poorly built and often overcrowded, and there is little regard for safety regulations.
Heavy monsoon rains have flooded rivers in parts of India, where boats are often the main mode of transport in remote areas. – AP partner, the Nationals party, on Sunday narrowly rejected an attempt to make such a ban party policy. The party’s annual conference rejected a proposed burqa ban 55 votes to 51.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, the Nationals’ leader, had argued at the conference against such a ban, saying it could damage Australia’s trade relations with Muslim-majority countries including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Hanson on Thursday said the Nationals were “clearly very divided on this.”
Sam Dastyari, an opposition senator and an Iranian-born Muslim, told the Senate the burqa argument was “a ridiculous debate.”
Muslims account for fewer than 3 percent of Australia’s Christian-majority population of 24 million.
The French Parliament passed an act more than six years ago to ban the niqab and burqa, the full-face or faceand-body coverings worn by some Muslim women, in public places. Others have since followed. -AP
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