Labor MP and counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly, who was born in Egypt, says she’s received threatening emails since Dutton told parliament two-thirds of people recently charged with terrorism offences were of Muslim-Lebanese descent.
“The question she should be asking is of Bill Shorten, why did he seek to whip this up into an issue of political advantage for himself? Why did he seek to misrepresent my words?” Dutton told reporters in Canberra.
Dutton, when answering questions about Sudanese migrants last week, blamed Fraser government immigration policies for problems such as radicalisation and gang violence 30 years on.
He doubled down in parliament this week, saying that 22 of the 33 people most recently charged with terrorism offences were from “second- and third-generation Lebanese Muslim backgrounds”.
“I’m not going to step back from this,” Dutton said today, insisting he wanted an honest discussion and that his words had been “factual”.
“I’m not going to be intimidated or misrepresented by somebody like Bill Shorten.”
Just because something is fact doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable or productive to talk about it
Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim said the advice the minister had about the background of people facing charges was undoubtedly correct.
“But just because something is fact doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable or productive to talk about it,” he told Sky News, accusing the minister of harming national security interests.
“What we’ve got is a deliberate attack from Mr Dutton by quoting these numbers on a particular subsection of the Australian community, in this case Lebanese Muslim-Australians.”
Indigenous senator Pat Dodson today blamed Dutton’s “stupid” language for inciting death threats against Aly, during an impassioned speech against watering down race-hate laws.
The Senate was debating a private bill proposed by One Nation and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm to decimate the laws.
Unlike the bill put forward by Liberal backbencher Cory Bernardi to remove the words “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, this bill seeks to remove dealing with prohibition of offensive behaviour based on racial hatred.
In a scathing speech opposing the changes, Dodson declared bigotry was back in favour.
He spoke about his own fight for freedom, having been born before the 1967 referendum, when indigenous Australians were not counted in the census.
There was “a hell of a lot wrong with freedom” if you had to fight to experience it, Senator Dodson said.
“If this nation cannot stand up for the weakest and the poorest and those who are most vulnerable because of their race, their ethnicity, or their beliefs, then we have become a very sad replication of what democracy is about.
“Racism is something that isn’t growing wild out there in the fields – it’s actually tendered in a flowerbox sitting on the windowsills of flats and houses.”
Dodson said the “stupidity” of Dutton’s rhetoric had “excited some lunatic” to threaten violence and death to the Muslim Labor MP.
“This is what words do – when you don’t understand and comprehend the difference between debate and prejudice.”
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