An Australian senator with well-known anti-immigrant views has come under fire for blaming the horrific attack on the Muslim community in New Zealand — a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch that left almost 50 people dead — on immigration rather than far-right extremism.
"Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?" Sen. Fraser Anning of Queensland said in a tweet. Police in New Zealand have charged an Australian man with murder over the killings, which that country's leader was quick to label a "terrorist attack."
Anning's office released a statement earlier, which was later removed from his social media pages, in which the senator was quoted as saying, "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."
His statement, which was quickly condemned by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, began with Anning saying he was, "utterly opposed to any form of violence in our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman."
But the remarks shifted quickly to assigning the blame for the violence on the government, rather than the gunman.
Morrison condemned the remarks in the statement, a screengrab of which was still being circulated on social media, saying the comments, "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."
Anning fired back quickly with his own Facebook post, asking rhetorically if the Australian leader was living "in a bubble."
"Do you not see what has happened to Europe and the U.K. as a result of Muslim immigration? Australians DO NOT want that repeating here," Anning said, accusing Morrison of turning his back "on Western Civilisation."