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 The leader of Australia’s far-right party has sparked global outrage after wearing a burqa to the Senate as part of her campaign for a national ban on Islamic garments that cover the face.

Pauline Hanson, leader of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigration One Nation party, drew audible gasps from senators in the chamber as she sat wearing the veil for 20 minutes.

“I’m quite happy to remove this because this is not what should belong in this parliament,” she said. “If a person wears a balaclava or a helmet in to a bank or any other building, or even on the floor of the court, they must be removed. Why is it not the same case for someone who is covering up their face and cannot be identified?”

But her insistence that a “large majority of Australians” support her ban was shut down when Attorney-General George Brandis said his government would not implement a ban, and chastised Ms Hanson for what he described as a “stunt” that offended Australia’s Muslim minority.

“To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done,” Mr Brandis 

Opposition Senate leader Penny Wong told Ms Hanson: “It is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith; it is another to wear it as a stunt here in the Senate.”

Sam Dastyari, an opposition senator and an Iranian-born Muslim, said: “We have seen the stunt of all stunts in this chamber by Sen Hanson.

“The close to 500,000 Muslim Australians do not deserve to be targeted, do not deserve to be marginalised, do not deserve to be ridiculed, do not deserve to have their faith made some political point by the desperate leader of a desperate political party.”

Ms Hanson defended her decision, telling Sky News: “This is Australia. The burqa is not Australian. This is not the culture that we want here. It is not the culture of wearing the burqa, hiding your face.”

She added: “We need to address it now before the population of Muslims in our country grows to a stance that we cannot address.”

Senate president Stephen Parry said Ms Hanson’s identity had been confirmed before she entered the chamber and said he would not dictate the standards of dress for the chamber.

But Ms Hanson, an avid supporter of Donald Trump, said she wanted to expose the “security risk” posed by the garment and claimed her identity was not verified before entering the chamber. 

“It’s not only a security risk, and I was not checked to see if it was me ... we are spending $16m (£10m) upgrading security in the Parliament,” she said.

“The burqa has been banned in a lot of countries around the world ... we are politically correct here which is going to be to our detriment.”

Ms Hanson first rose to prominence in the 1990s because of her strident opposition to immigration from Asia and to asylum seekers.



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