Fear and loathing in One Nation's Australia

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Recently I was discussing the election of Pauline Hanson and One nation senators with some Hazara clients, let's call them Ali and Hussein. These clients are Pakistani Hazaras, who speak good English.

Senator Dastyari and Senator Hanson on the ABC's QandAThey told me they are worried about what Hanson says. 'She seems very angry,' said Ali. 'She does not understand Muslims,' added Hussein.

Hussein was recently getting his car fixed and was asked if he was a Muslim. He replied that he was. 'I could see the man's face change,' Hussein told me. The man had become angry and fearful.

However Hussein was not afraid to explain how there are many different groups in Islam, and that most Muslims do not agree with the extremists. Few really support the extremist positions of the Taliban, Al Qaida or Daesh. 'After I explained this to him, he seemed to relax.' If only Hussein could have the same effect on the One Nation senators.

Ali and Hussein's father was killed by the terrorist group Lashkar e Jhangavi in Pakistan because he was building a Shia mosque. Lashkar e Jhangavi is an extremist Sunni group which has killed many Hazaras just because they are Shia. They are even alleged to be behind other attacks, such as on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

It is one of several extremist groups in Pakistan, whose raison d'étre is killing Shia because they are perceived as being 'unIslamic'.

Only this week a bomb blast in Quetta in western Pakistan killed over 70 at a hospital. Many Hazaras live in the Quetta area. The attack was claimed by two other extremist groups, including Daesh (so called Islamic State) and a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban. It targeted lawyers mourning the killing of the leader of a local bar association.

Other attacks target Hazaras, Shia or anti-Taliban Pashtu groups, and are claimed by the Taliban. Similar irrational motivations appear in other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, especially Daesh, which loudly publicises atrocities and war crimes on the internet.

The deliberate targeting of Shia is matched by deliberate targeting of Sunni Muslims by extremist Shia groups. One reason some Iraqi Sunni turn to Daesh is for protection from extremist Shia militias, only then to suffer at the hands of the extremists of Daesh.

 

"Maybe Hanson should take up the offer of a Halal lunch with her fellow Senator Dastyari and learn something which will help her realise that her fear is irrational and promotes harm of others."

 

The refugees we see from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are commonly fleeing religious or politico-religious based violence. Religious minorities such as Christians, Yazidis or Mandaeans in Iraq are especially at risk from these extremists and war criminals. They are all fleeing hatred driven by irrational fear and prejudice.

In Australia, the refugees now face a new fear and prejudice, from those who do not understand why the refugees are coming. Political groups such as One Nation promote fear and prejudice. Luckily here there is no real risk of being killed in bomb attacks, but we hear reports of abuse and discrimination because of religion. 'Why is she so angry?' asks Ali. Indeed, what is One Nation afraid of? Their fear is the other, and rather than meet people and learn about their country or culture, they promote irrational fear.

In the 1990s it was Asians and Indigenous Australians who were the main targets of One Nation. Now it is Muslims and refugees. I cannot understand why people who profess to know so little about a subject want to loudly promote their ignorance and fear. Maybe Hanson should take up the offer of a Halal lunch with her fellow Senator Dastyari and learn something which will help her realise that her fear is irrational and promotes harm of others. It is interesting how meeting the 'other' and listening to their stories makes you realise how little you have to fear.

It is fear of the other that enables the support for punitive policies and laws against refugees. The idea of the temporary protection visa (TPV) was initially proposed by One Nation back in 1998. Back then, Philip Ruddock was quoted in the Anglican Southern Cross newspaper in September 1998 as saying in response to this proposal: 'The people you bring here are very much likely to have been tortured, traumatised, and in need of support for rebuilding new life. Can you imagine what temporary entry would do in terms of giving people a chance?'

Thirteen months later, the same minister introduced TPVs for people arriving by boat, and in 2014, the Coalition reintroduced this punitive policy which, as Ruddock said in 1998, would not give people a chance. He was right in 1998, and the current version of this cruel policy, inspired by One Nation, is again afflicting and punishing refugees.

Ali and Hussein are lucky, they each came with their wife and children. Two children were born in Australia, but are deemed under the Pythonesque logic and law to have 'arrived as unlawful maritime arrivals'. They are trying to build new lives in Australia, away from the fear and hatred they experienced in their homeland. However the best they will get is temporary protection at this stage.

Ali, Hussein and I spoke about their fears in Pakistan and how hatred they experienced in Pakistan from extremists caused them to flee. Now in Australia, they have temporary safety. However irrational fear of the other is again likely to feature in speeches in our Parliament. Hopefully sense will prevail, but after how long, and at what personal cost to those who came across the seas, seeking our protection?

 


Kerry MurphyKerry Murphy is a partner with the specialist immigration law firm D'Ambra Murphy Lawyers and member of the boards of the IARC and JRS.

Pictured: Senator Dastyari and Senator Hanson on the ABC's QandA.

Topic tags: Kerry Murphy, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa, Pauline Hanson, One Nation


 

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Existing comments

Would the mechanic ask the same question of a fair skinned woman in her 60s?!!
Jean | 11 August 2016


Cogently said, thanks.
Peter Goers | 11 August 2016


It worries me that people of all flavours within Australia have so-much fear. It worries me even more that those fears get magnified overseas. I was involved in Newcastle with a group of Thai government officials when Hanson made her 1997 attacks on Asians: on the basis of what they'd heard overseas these well-travelled officials were really scared for their personal welfare while in Australia. Hardly a good rap for Australia While we might like rationalism to prevail we have to do something about perceptions - on all sides of this issue.
Ian Bowie | 11 August 2016


As Christians we follow the teaching of Christ. The Old Testament prophecies the coming of Christ and the formation of Gods people. There are many confronting passages and stories in the Old Testament that we would now a days consider Politically incorrect. How many wives did David have, how many of his enemy did he behead. Christ changed that with his message of Love and all that it entails, this is what we believe. Five hundred or so years later Mohammed had his visions put to paper. An exclusive testament to a people to tolerate no other form of Worship. Having recently spent some considerable time in Muslim countries i took the opportunity to read some of the Quran. in the first five books that I did `read, I didn't find much to swage my fears. Innumerable texts so confronting as to make the Old Testament sound like Days of Our Lives. from Table 5, 51. O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies... This a less graphic and non violent text to quote for the family read that you present! It is a challenge, one I am ill prepared to face in accepting this doctrine of division into our culture. I know I must, if I truly believe in the message of Christ, but I do understand what One Nation is afraid of!
Denys Smith | 11 August 2016


Well written Kerry, EDUCATION is the only answer-with a bit of sanity from the "Shock Jocks" added.
Gavin | 11 August 2016


The red-headed redneck is a joke along with the minority mob who voted for her. Why not just ignore her and her ilk rather than give her free publicity. I heard the other day that she sold her fish and chip shop to a Vietnamese man! If we all ignore her on the Muslim issue perhaps she will have a similar change of heart eventually with minimal damage to civilised society. If we keep highlighting her in the media it will only cause damage here and overseas. Why write a solitary word about her? ..
john frawley | 11 August 2016


Spot on! Fear is indeed the key to the successful campaign waged by both government and opposition parties to justify the immoral policy of offshore detention of asylum seekers and refugees. I noted Pauline Hanson on Q&A duck the invitation to share a meal with a Muslim family. So much for her "willingness to learn"!
Ern Azzopardi | 11 August 2016


TPVs are not so recent. My mother and I came to Australia in 1942, escaping the Japanese invasion of Indonesia. Our visa was marked for the duration of the war only, and so we were kicked out in 1946. Thankfully we managed to get back, and have made our contribution.
Karel Reus | 12 August 2016


As one of the most politically 'left-progressive' readers of Eureka Street perhaps I can take the opposite view to most commenters without being suspected of being a Hanson supporter. I think a lot of people voted for One Nation for quite understandable reasons. One is unemployment and its relation, whatever that might be, to our very high migrant (not refugee) intake. The other is the fear of being made a cultural outsider in your own country. One Nation supporters probably didn't mind having a few 'different' people in their community - the fear is that they will become a majority and that their cultural mores will swamp the locally-grown ones. These seem understandable concerns to me. The answer is to address these concerns, no?
Russell | 12 August 2016


The problem is not One Nation, it's the politically correct mob who control the schools and local governments. they are the ones who are bringing in all kinds of rules and regulations in an attempt to ban all Christian elements of our culture because they claim these are offensive. This causes resentment to flare up and then, having caught fire, is unfairly directed toward our Muslim neighbors who cop the backlash. We then have people like Kerry Murphy standing to one side throwing petrol onto the fire. Don't point the finger at Pauline Hanson. If you want to see the cause of the problem look in a mirror with the rest of the politically correct brigade.
Brian Leeming | 14 August 2016


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