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Right-wing Australian senator blames ‘immigration’ for New Zealand mosque attacks

Police said they will provide “a highly visible” presence when New Zealanders return to daily life three days after an attack on two mosques killed 50 people. (Video: Monica Akhtar, Allie Caren, Drea Cornejo, Sarah Parnass, Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)

When the Islamic State went on a deadly rampage across Europe in 2015 and 2016, the group’s sympathizers never shied away from defending the killing of people they said were “infidels.” By living in Western societies, they argued, Westerners were by default reasonable targets.

On Friday, following a devastating attack at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, an Australian senator proved that some far-right ideologues’ justifications can sound harrowingly similar when Muslims are the victims. Muslims, said Fraser Anning, a far-right independent senator from Queensland, “may have been the victims today; usually they are the perpetrators.”

Anning said he is “utterly opposed to any form of violence” and condemned the actions.

While Anning did not explicitly say so, his comments implied that Muslims bore some responsibility for Friday’s shootings because of the actions of Muslims elsewhere.

“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” Anning said in a written statement.

Dozens killed in terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rushed to condemn Anning’s statement, writing on Twitter that “remarks by Senator Fraser Anning blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting. Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament.”

“New Zealand, like Australia, is home to people from all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. There is absolutely no place in either of our countries for the hatred and intolerance that has bred this extremist, terrorist violence and we condemn it,” Morrison continued.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said Anning is a “disgrace to the Senate, and what is worse, by spreading hatred and turning Australians against each other, he is doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

Anning has faced harsh criticism from his colleagues before, especially after he resorted to language reminiscent of the Nazi description of the Holocaust when he called for a “final solution to the immigration problem.”

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