The Prime Minister’s new parliamentary secretary, Ed Husic, has been subjected to a torrent of racial abuse online for being sworn in to his position with a Qur-aan.
Mr Husic, 43, the son of Bosnian Muslim migrants, became the first Muslim to be elected to parliament when he won his western Sydney seat of Chifley in the 2010 election. Mr Husic became Australia’s first Muslim frontbencher on Monday (01 July 2013) when he was appointed to Kevin Rudd’s new-look ministry as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband.
“This is a wonderful day for multiculturalism, and everything it stands for in our country,” Governor-General Quentin Bryce told Husic during the swearing-in ceremony in Canberra on Monday.
However, after receiving dozens of messages of congratulations on his Facebook page, the comments quickly turned to disgust and outrage that he chose to be sworn in on the Qur-aan.
Some called it un-Australian and unconstitutional.
“Our allegiance should have been to Queen and Country first Ed. That means saying the oath on the holy bible not the Koran…. Shame, Shame, Shame,” posted one user, Ross Peace. “I am so disappointed in this government that they don’t have the spine to stand up for the Australian way of life.”
Another user, Therese Pearce, said she was “disgusted and embarrassed” for the Australian people.
“Hell I might just have to use snow white and the 7 dwarfs next time I take the oath for Australia,” she posted.
Another user, Carrie Forrest, accused him of disregarding Australia’s constitution and pushing for shariah law.
Husic has previously said that he is a moderate Muslim who does not involve himself heavily with most of the religious customs and behaviours of the faith.
“I often get told that I describe myself as non-practising when in actual fact I don’t go round saying that. Like I just say ‘I’m Muslim.’”
Rachel Olding, July 2, 2013, http://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au
Husic said the attacks on his social media site were just “a natural part of democracy” and that “its important that we not necessarily jump because of harsh words out of dark corners”. Husic said that after he accepted the “huge honour” of Rudd’s offer he called his parents who migrated to Australia from Bosnia in the 1960s and reflected with them on his achievement.
Meanwhile, fellow Labor MP Rob Mitchell reacted angrily on Twitter to the anti-Islamic comments, saying “appalling behaviour” against Husic “shouldn’t be tolerated at all”. “It is an embarrassment to decency, fairness and all we stand for,” he said.Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he was not familiar with the abusive comments but he respected Husic’s choice to be sworn in using the Quraan.
“I respect his choice and I think the Australian people should as well,” he said. Abbott’s reaction prompted Labor MP Michelle Rowland to tweet that the Opposition Leader’s comments were “extremely weak”.
Many Facebook users leaped to the western Sydney MP’s defence, offering congratulations on his appointment and saying he should “ignore the haters” and “racist rants”.