Over a million people sign petition calling for the removal of Australian politician
Published Sunday, March 17, 2019 1:23PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 17, 2019 1:54PM EDT
Over a million people have signed a petition calling for the removal of Australian politician Fraser Anning from parliament after he blamed immigration for the deadly terrorist attack at two New Zealand mosques.
Anning faced overwhelming criticism over his 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 a day after the attacks in a written statement., a day after the attacks in Christchurch which left 50 people dead.
While Anning wrote he was “utterly opposed” to the violence, many took issue with him saying the attacks highlight “the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Anning’s comments “appalling,” but two Australians wanted to do more.
Sydney doctor Kate Ahmad and Melbourne author Harris Sultan began separate petitions on Change.org -- nearly an hour apart -- calling for the removal of Anning from Parliament.
But since then, Ahmed and Sultan have merged their petitions. Their new one has become the “largest in Australian online petition history,” Change.org’s executive director Sally Rugg told Australian newspaper The Age.
She also told the newspaper that the petition is the site's fastest-growing one on their platform. Almost 250,000 people signed up in the first 18 hours, Rugg said.
The petition’s description states that Anning’s comments have “no place in the government of our democratic and multicultural country. We request that he be expelled from his position as senator, and investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right-wing terrorism.”
But Annig’s critics are also making headlines for the ways they’re channeling their criticism.
On Saturday, a teenager smacked Anning in the back of the head with a raw egg. Later that night, someone recorded themselves confronting Anning at Melbourne Airport asking him, “Don’t you have any remorse?” Anning can be heard telling the man to “stand back.”
Then, to cap off the day, the Australian government and the opposition party agreed to pass a censure motion against Anning over his stance on the Christchurch shootings. Parliament will vote on that motion in April.
Support from the major parties' ensures the censure motion, which is mainly a symbolic gesture, will be passed by both legislative chambers.
With files from The Associated Press