Australian senator censured for blaming Muslim victims

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian senator was censured by his colleagues on Wednesday for seeking to blame the victims of last month’s mosque shootings and vilify Muslims.

Sen. Fraser Anning was the target of widespread condemnation for blaming the attack in New Zealand on immigration policies. He faced more criticism later for physically striking a teenager who cracked a raw egg on his head in a viral incident in Melbourne.

On Parliament’s second sitting day since the March 15 attack in which 50 people died, government and opposition lawmakers moved the censure motion against Anning for divisive comments “seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion, which do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people.”

“Sen. Anning’s comments were ugly and divisive. They were dangerous and unacceptable from anyone, let alone a member of this place,” Government Senate Leader Mathias Cormann told the Senate.

Anning dismissed the censure motion as an attack on free speech. “It is also an exercise in left-wing virtue signaling of the worst kind,” he told the Senate before the vote.

He sits as an independent lawmaker after defecting from the anti-Muslim One Nation party, whose two senators abstained from the censure vote.

One Nation Sen. Peter Georgiou read a speech on behalf of party leader Pauline Hanson, who was absent.

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