MEMBERS of far right social media groups are celebrating a win for “people power” after an Australia Day billboard depicting two Muslim women was hastily pulled following an Islamophobia-fuelled outcry.
Social media erupted after a picture of the billboard began circulating last Friday, with many Facebook users slamming the Melbourne freeway advertisement as “un-Australian”.
On Tuesday, Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott revealed the image would be removed, after the company behind the ad, QMS, received threats.
Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott should be put on notice. Treason is still treason. This is intolerable.
But he warned the issuers of the threats not to take the action as a win.
“Anyone who considers this a victory needs a refresher on the true meaning of Australia Day,” Mr Scott said.
Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott needs some education about Australia Day. There are many here among us who wouldn’t mind to set him straight.
However, members of far right Facebook groups — many of whom had earlier lamented the depiction of two women in hijabs front of an Australian flag was the ultimate insult to our country’s scared, national day — were quick to celebrate.
“POWER TO THE PEOPLE at last,” wrote one commenter.
“Good. Should have had a BBQ at the beach scene instead. That’s more Australian,” wrote another.
“It should have been burnt to the ground!!!”
“The Government’s anti Australian propaganda is completely out of control! The only thing Australian’ about those people was perhaps their location,” said another commenter.
“If only the idiots took notice so quickly to everything else that’s wrong with Islam,” came another.
Islamophobia Register Australia founder Mariam Veiszadeh said it was not the first time such a backlash resulted in advertising material being withdrawn.
Australia needs a Muslim agitprop register, not a Turncoat funded “Islamophobia Register”.
“Increasingly, any visible portrayal of Australian Muslims or any diversity for that matter, in connection with a public campaign is becoming the subject of backlash from small but vocal parts of the community,” she told news.com.au
“Last year Optus was forced to withdraw advertisements in Arabic from some of its stores because of a similar backlash and threats to staff, from people who ignorantly conflated the Arabic language with Islam and Muslims.”
The original post about the billboard was shared nearly a thousand times and attracted almost 600 comments.
The image sat beside an outer Melbourne freeway to advertise an official flag-raising ceremony in Docklands and an Australia Day Parade in the Kings Domain Gardens.
The litany of Islamophobic comments on Facebook encouraged people unhappy with the sign to direct their displeasure to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Many of them referred to him as “Imam Daniel Andrews”, an honorific for a Muslim leader.
Mr Scott said comments indicating that Australia Day should only be represented by beach scenes, beer and barbecues missed the true meaning of our national day
“It is about bringing people together and celebrating the diversity which makes this state and this country great,” Mr Scott said.
Mr Scott is very welcome to celebrate Australia Day with Muslims if he is so inclined. He must not force his “diversity” on us.
“It’s very disappointing to see a small minority attacking proud Australians for their love of their country.”
Mr Scott would be surprised how many we are. We should show him.
QMS declined to comment on the threats received.
The uproar came just days after a divisive Australia Day advertisement by Meat and Livestock Australia, in which multiple ethnic groups are seen to turn up uninvited to a barbecue being held by indigenous Australians.
It drew criticism from similar quarters, including from One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson.
Australia Day billboard showing women in hijabs sparks backlash
AN Australia Day event billboard featuring two women in hijabs has sparked controversy on social media but event organisers defended the design.
The billboard is believed to be one of 12 across the state and advertises the RACV Australia Day festival at Kings Domain.
A photo of the billboard, which is at the interchange between Peninsula Link and Connect East (EastLink), was uploaded on a far-right ‘patriots’ Facebook page on January 13 with many commenters claiming it did not represent Australia, and accusing its designers of “propaganda”.
JoJo Jenkins said “our Anzacs would be rolling in their graves to see ‘Australia Day’ advertised like this — what a disgrace to their sacrifice”.
Kaya Brown said, “don’t see any Australians on the billboard … take one last look because I’m sure next year you won’t see what’s left of the Australian flag at all, instead it will be replaced by a star and moon symbol.”
Andrew Cawfield said, “I’m the one racially vilified in this country now because l’m white.”
Department of Premier and Cabinet spokeswoman Vivien Allimonos said the photo used on the billboard was taken at 2016 Australia Day celebrations.
“Australia Day is for all Victorians and celebrates everything that makes our country great, including our vibrant diversity,” she said.
“This campaign uses images of Victorians from different cultural backgrounds — all proud Australians celebrating our national day.
“The campaign is supported by the Australia Day Victoria Committee and the National Australia Day Council.”
A spokeswoman for RACV said they were not involved with the design of the billboard.