The far-right lawmaker had sparked outrage Friday when — after a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, claimed at least 50 lives — he said Muslims “may have been the victims today; usually they are the perpetrators.”
“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today,” Anning wrote in a statement, “is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
A day later, as he stood before a group of reporters, the teen smashed the egg, and Anning, with yolk dripping down the back of his neck, swiftly punched the 17-year-old in the face. He then lunged for him again, throwing another punch before the two were separated. A group of men tackled the teen to the floor and placed him in a chokehold.
Footage of the encounter immediately went viral; a seven-second video had more than 2 million views just hours after it was posted.
Now, nearly 1.5 million people have signed a petition to have the senator removed from Parliament. His colleagues are planning to formally censure him. The prime ministers for Australia and New Zealand condemned Anning for what he said about Muslims and did to the teen, now known as “egg boy.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called them “appalling” and “ugly” and said they “have no place in Australia.”
“I would normally not want to give this any oxygen, but I want to absolutely and completely denounce the statements made by Senator Anning … on this horrendous terrorist attack, with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically,” Morrison said.
Police said they were investigating the incident. Australian news outlet 7 News Sydney reported the teenager, later identified by the media as William Connolly, was briefly arrested but later released without charge. Morrison called for Anning to face the “full force of the law.”
Though the blowback has been swift and mounting, Anning reportedly doubled down on his statement on Saturday. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the senator mentioned in the news conference that many of his supporters in his home state of Queensland are under the age of 35. Noting that the primary suspect in the Christchurch attacks is 28, one Anning supporter said, “It’s the younger generation taking up the fight.”
Anning replied by saying, “Well, he’s obviously a little on the crazy side, but yeah.”
A Sydney doctor, Kate Ahmad, and a Melbourne author, Harris Sultan, created separate petitions calling for Anning’s removal and have now merged them, creating the largest online petition in Australian history, reported the Age newspaper.
The petition reads: “We call on the Australian government to assist in demanding a resignation from this man who blames victims for their own violent deaths, and uses references to genocide to further his hateful agenda. There is no place in Australian government for neo-Nazis. There is no place for bigotry. There is no place for hate speech.”
Connolly recorded a video of himself addressing the incident.
“Don’t egg politicians. You get tackled by 30 brogans at the same time,” Connolly said. “I learnt the hard way.”
He punctuated his advice with an expletive.
A GoFundMe campaign has dubbed the teen “hero EggBoi” and is raising money for his “legal fees.”