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Here Are Some Of The Ways Pauline Hanson's Speech Wasn't Quite Right

We asked Australian Muslims for their thoughts on the claims made in Hanson's maiden speech.

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1. "The Grand Mufti and other Muslim leaders are deafening with their silence, or lack of sympathy [for terror attacks]."

LMA/Facebook / Via Facebook: Lebanese.Muslim.Association

In the past three months alone the Islamic Council of Victoria has publicly denounced 10 acts of violence committed in the name of Islam including bombings in Turkey, the July attack in France’s coastal city of Nice, shootings in Orlando and a recent stabbing in Sydney’s south-west.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, condemned the Paris attacks in late 2015, stating that he, along with the Australian National Imams Council, "consistently and unequivocally condemned all forms of terrorist violence".

The council has repeatedly released statements of condemnation in the wake of violent acts.

Hanson wasn't wrong about this: the 2011 census found 61.1% of Australians considered themselves Christian. But that number has been shrinking over the past two decades. In 1986 it was 73%.

One in five Australians (22.1%) said they had no religion, 9.4% chose not to say, 2.5% were Buddhist, and 2.2% were Muslim.

Our government is secular in the sense that Section 116 of the Australian Constitution provides the Commonwealth can't make laws that impose any religious observance, establish any religion, nor use a religious test as a qualification for any office or public trust.


3. “Burqas are not a religious requirement… I am sure a lot of the women forced to wear them would love to cast them aside but live in fear to do so.”

Torsten Blackwood / AFP / Getty Images

Men and women dressed in burqas from the group 'Faceless' call for the banning of the Muslim apparel throughout Australia during a rally.

Mo El-leissy is a Muslim community worker based in Melbourne. He told BuzzFeed News a burqa isn't a religious requirement. "Pauline should talk to those women first before judging their intentions," he said.

Muslim lawyer Lydia Shelly said Hanson's assertions were "factually incorrect" and were an attempt to use Australian women's bodies as a battleground for her own "toxic, nationally disruptive and radical ideology".

"Muslim women do not need Pauline Hanson to liberate us, to 'teach' us about 'freedom' or to advise us in matters of clothing," Shelly told BuzzFeed News.

"Her assumption that her capacity as a radical hate preacher qualifies her to speak on women's bodies is absurd; as is her belief that Australian Muslim women are chained to the kitchen sink waiting for a red-headed, ex-fish and chip shop owner to liberate us."

Sydney-based Asma Fahmi said she and many other Muslim women were more afraid of Hanson than of not wearing a burqa.

"The problem isn't that Muslim women are disempowered because of their religion, the problem arises when Muslim women are unable to assert their God given rights to empower themselves," said Fahmi.

4. "Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of assembly."

Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Muslim pilgrims from all around the world circle around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, in the Saudi city of Mecca.

"Isl​​a​m as a political ideology does not [believe in these things], but that does not necessarily translate to action," Elleissy told BuzzFeed News.

"Many Muslim countries are democracies, the majority of Muslims prefer free societies - that's why they come here. The attention seekers like [Islamic political organisation] Hizb-ut Tahrir should not be seen to represent Muslims and it's not fair that people only look to them and their handful of followers."


5. "Halal certification tax has been forced upon us, costing Australians approximately $10 million a year. Halal certification is not a religious requirement but a moneymaking racket, and certification is unnecessary for Muslims' welfare because non-halal products can be consumed, provided the word 'Bismillah' is said over the food and a prayer is recited."

There is no halal certification tax but retailers pay for the sticker to increase their sales and profits by widening their customer base.

There is no regulation that compels companies to declare the amount they pay for certification, but lawyer and policy officer Yusra Metwally told BuzzFeed News that the total amount of halal certification fees generated in Australia is estimated at $10 million.

Nick Hutchinson of Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt said it costs his business $1000 a year to be certified.

"It works out to cost an extra $0.002 per product per year, which is then just absorbed in house, nothing passed onto consumers at all," he said.

Halal certification also generates billions in exports.

The Australian Muslims BuzzFeed News spoke to said saying "Bismillah" - meaning "in the name of God" - over non-halal produce does not make the food permissible. (Halal is defined by the Macquarie dictionary as "permissible according to Islamic law".)

"[Pauline] obviously missed the sections [of the Q'uran] where Muslims are commanded to only eat that which is halal," Sydneysider Mohamed Shihadeh told BuzzFeed News.

This was true in 2013 when Australia Post's chief executive Ahmed Fahour was paid almost $4.8 million. But in the last financial year he forwent a bonus of more than $2 million on top of his salary of $2.1 million.


The only evidence BuzzFeed News found to support this claim is that NSW premier Mike Baird recently vowed to create 100 public sector jobs for refugees.

This is true, just as there are spaces for people of other religions.

For example, Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital has an outdoor meditation space, a Christian sacred space and separate male and female Muslim prayer space with washing facilities and prayer mats.

In some hospitals run by Christian organisations, like St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, there are chapels for people of all faiths to pray at.

Some universities, like James Cook in Queensland, have "multi-faith prayer rooms" for students of all denominations.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not provide data on the religion of prisoners, only giving country of birth. But research undertaken by The Australian in 2015 found that in Victoria and NSW, 8% and 9% of the respective prison populations identify as Muslim, compared with 2.2% and 3% of the respective state populations. The percentage of Muslim inmates in Queensland is lower, at 1.5%.

The statistics did not identify how many surveyed converted to Islam after being imprisoned.

"Any imam that marries off a second wife is immediately struck off by the board of imams," Mo El-leissy said.

"It happens rarely, so it's not fair to say 'Muslim men are doing this'."

"Australian Muslim men, like all other Muslims, must follow the law of the land they live in. In fact Sharia law makes it a requirement," Metwally said.

11. "Indiscriminate immigration and aggressive multiculturalism have caused crime to escalate and trust and social cohesion to decline."

Morne De Klerk / Getty Images

Fireworks as part of the multicultural round celebrations before an AFL match.

BuzzFeed News was unable to find sources to find a causal link between immigration policy and crime but the ABS reports the rates of murder, assault, stabbings, break and enter, robbery and motor vehicle theft across Australia have declined.

The rates for some crimes - identity theft and methamphetamine use - have increased.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at

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