A statement from Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, posted on Twitter, read: “while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.
The mass shooting by at least one gunman during Friday prayers in the city of Christchurch is the country’s worst ever mass shooting and was described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a terrorist attack.
At least 49 people are dead and 20 seriously injured. A gunman, described as a “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist” who idolised US extremist movements, live-streamed the shooting on social media and posted a right-wing manifesto online.
Reaction to the statement by Anning was of shock and disgust. Australian TV presenter Patricia Karvelas accused him of “exploiting a moment of deep trauma to raise his hate”.
Anning accompanied the statement with a series of tweets that echoed the statement, but these were later deleted.
He wrote: “Today’ shootings in Christchurch highlight the growing fears within our community both in Australia and New Zealand over the increasing Muslim presence.”
Another read: “Countries such as Poland, Japan and Hungary that have not allowed Muslim immigration are not facing any terrorist attacks today. This is what we should aim for.”
Anning, who has been in parliament since November 2017 and sits as an independent in Queensland, has a long history of controversy.
He provoked widespread condemnation in August last year after using term “final solution” in calling for a revival of a “White Australia” restrictive immigration policy.
He has also called an LGBT+ education programmes in schools “sexually deviant propaganda”.
And earlier this week he falsely claimed that 429 Muslims holding political office in the UK are “introducing Sharia law”.