Earlier this year, Australia’s first female Muslim senator, Mehreen Faruqi, called out political racism in her maiden speech to senate.
Today, the need for such a speech is once again made abundantly clear.
Faruqi, a Pakistani-born Australian, made several posts to her Facebook account yesterday condemning the Melbourne Cup for encouraging animal cruelty for the sake of gambling, and displaying images from the ‘Nup to the Cup’ campaign.
Her comments came in a timely fashion; they preceded the tragic death of The CliffsofMoher, who was put down on the track on Tuesday after sustaining a fractured right shoulder.
Such posts are bound to elicit a mix of responses from those on either side of the debate, but it was shocking to see the wave of hateful commenters that flooded her posts, intent on ignoring the topic at hand altogether.
Indeed, many users took it as an opportunity to spew forth their racist and Islamophobic thoughts.
Faruqi posted an image displaying some of these comments, accompanied by the caption:
Yesterday I spoke out against the gambling industry and cruelty of horse racing.
These are just a few of the comments I received in return.
This is what happens when people of colour speak out on almost any issue.
It’s easy to believe that as our society moves forward, sexism, racism, xenophobia and other such issues will naturally fade away. We’re evolving, and surely we’re too smart to fall prey to the same mistakes as in the past? If you’re overall a kind, mentally healthy and well-rounded human being, its easy to assume that most others are, well, just like you.
Surely the Pauline Hansons of Australia and the rest of the world are a small minority?
Well this latest story, combined with Senator Fraser Anning’s recent ‘final solution’ speech, are the last in a long line of poor behavioural examples, political and non, which will hopefully wake you to the truth that Australia’s problems are far from over.
In her maiden speech to senate, Faruqi put it this way:
“While I did feel welcomed when we arrived here, migrants coming to our shores today would not be able to say the same. The last 26 years have seen governments erode support for newcomers as bigotry and xenophobia has been allowed to flourish.
You can’t condemn racism and then in a warm glow of self-congratulation allow deep-rooted structures of discrimination to remain in access to healthcare and public services, in our prisons and justice system and in our immigration system.”
Faruqi is set to take on the Green’s education portfolio and help address issues related to animal welfare, housing and gun control. Her presence as the first female Muslim in a position of such political influence stands to affect racial change alone. Let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later.