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Q&A recap: Would Pauline Hanson ban a young, Muslim Sam Dastyari from Australia? | One Herald
Home / Health / Q&A recap: Would Pauline Hanson ban a young, Muslim Sam Dastyari from Australia?

Q&A recap: Would Pauline Hanson ban a young, Muslim Sam Dastyari from Australia?


In television terms, Monday ended much as it had begun. From Today to Q&A, you wanted to set your hair on fire, or perhaps were left wondering why you weren’t outside falling off a cliff trying to catch Pokemon. 

At one point during the ABC’s late-night denouement to a day of debate over the nature of bigotry and freedom of speech, Pauline Hanson proffered the most coherent of her many statements for the evening, assisted by it consisting of only two words and thus not requiring a GPS to navigate from one end of it to the other.


Hanson: ‘You’re a Muslim?’

QandA was in top form as Pauline Hanson and Sam Dastyari debated the cause of Islamic extremism, the show-stopping moment came when Ms Hanson discovered that Senator Dastyari is a Muslim. Courtesy: ABC News24

“Go Sonia!” she cried.

Sonia, in case you fell of a cliff early Monday and missed what in American TV news terms is known as a Fox Trot, is Sonia Kruger – the Strictly Ballroom dancer remembered fondly as Tina Sparkle, who had taken to the generally bewildered airwaves of morning television to offer her views on Muslims. 

Vis-a-vis immigration policy, and her notion that Australia should ban Muslim arrivals. 

The came the qualifier: “As a mother”, as she so pertinently and persistently reminded those of us absent a functioning womb or an ounce of sense.

Fortunately Pauline was on hand on Q&A to reinforce the message.

“I think it’s great that someone is standing up because she’s expressed her feeling about it,” declared Hanson, clearly happy to to find a fellow traveller in the media willing to mainstream the previously limited audience for Things Donald Trump Dreamed Up During a Rough Trot On The Toilet.

Monday night's panel: Sam Dastyari, Pauline Hanson, Larissa Waters, Simon Birmingham and Nick Xenophon.
Monday night’s panel: Sam Dastyari, Pauline Hanson, Larissa Waters, Simon Birmingham and Nick Xenophon. Photo: ABC TV

Pursed of lip and purged of self-reflection, Hanson was in full-flight, so perfectly Pauline that had she offered the rest of the panel a deal on flake and chips during a quiet moment it would not have been a surprise. For better or worse, though, there were almost no quiet moments, barring a sequence of events at the end when Tony Jones appeared to recognise the nation had collectively reached for its nearest available drugs; he wisely turned the conversation away from Muslims to economic policy. 

Confronted by this road block, Hanson did as Hanson does – asked to recite the alphabet, she goes for broke and throws it in the air to see what lands. But for the full effect of the swizzle stick that passes for a thought process in the Hanson mind, you couldn’t go past the earlier moment when she found herself engaged with her panel neighbour, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari. 

Dasyari and Hanson had several exchanges about Islam.
Dasyari and Hanson had several exchanges about Islam. Photo: ABC TV

It will stand as one of the TV year’s most jolting and compelling moments.

Hanson: “Are you a Muslim? Really?” 

Sam Dastyari at age of 5, when he immigrated to Australia from Iran.
Sam Dastyari at age of 5, when he immigrated to Australia from Iran.  Photo: Supplied

Dastyari: “Yeah and I have never hidden it away.”

Hanson: “Were you sworn in under the Koran?”

Cindy Rahal said ms Hanson's politics were creating a "divided nation".
Cindy Rahal said ms Hanson’s politics were creating a “divided nation”. Photo: ABC TV

Dastyari: “I was born in an Islamic nation and by being born… 

Hanson: “So you’re a Muslim.”

Khaled Elomar asked Ms Hanson if her views were driven by "hate, fear or ignorance?"
Khaled Elomar asked Ms Hanson if her views were driven by “hate, fear or ignorance?” Photo: ABC TV

Dastyari: “By being born in an Islamic nation and under Iranian law, under Islamic law and in places like Iran and my parents fled to be able to come to this country…”

Hanson: “You’re a practising Muslim? This is quite interesting.”

Ms Hanson repeatedly asked Mr Dastyari if he was a Muslim.
Ms Hanson repeatedly asked Mr Dastyari if he was a Muslim. Photo: ABC TV

Quite interesting indeed, or to truly reflect the Hanson inflection on this observation: “Run for the hills!”

Dastyari went on: “Ms Hanson: “I think you’re trying to make a joke of what is a serious…”

Hanson, apparently having taken Dastyari’s live TV election night offer of a halal meal as being inspired by his upbringing as a Mormon: “I’m surprised. I did not know that about you.”

And then an interjection from the Greens Larissa Waters: “Because he doesn’t have three heads?”

This drew laughter and applause, but this was a serious moment, as Dastyari pointed out in one of his many heroically respectful but pointed challenges to the Hanson doctrine across the program.

“Would you have allowed five-year-old Sam Dastyari into this country? He came to this country on 16 January, 1988, two weeks before the Bicentenary celebrations and my family has done nothing but contribute to this country since they’ve been here.”

Tony Jones pushed Hanson on the point. 

Jones: “Pauline Hanson, could you just answer the very basic question? Would you be happy to see him blocked from – someone in his position now who’s been persecuted in another country that happens to be a Muslim – would you be happy to see that five-year-old blocked from coming here?”

Hanson: “Muslims have been a part of Australia for a long, long time, many, many years. You go back to the Gold Rush days and they were in Australia but it is only in the last 10, 20 years that we have seen a rise of terrorism on the streets.”

It was that kind of night. But the clear dignity of the evening belonged to the audience, among them Australians of Muslim faith who wanted to offer dignified rebuke to the hurricane of public bigotry they now endure.

Cindy Rahal to Hanson: “I think that Muslims in Australia have constantly been telling people like you and who support you that that is not what Islam is about and it’s falling on deaf ears and I think you have very selective hearing and what you’re creating is not one nation, you are creating a divided nation. If you want to have a look at creating one nation, you need to look at way we can include everybody. All the Muslims and any other religion as well. You have a very one-track mind and unfortunately it is very dangerous.”

And, most powerfully, Khaled Elomar: “Senator Hanson, my 11-year-old son who is watching this program right now recently asked me, ‘What is Islamophobia?’ Rather than explaining it to him with my own words, he and I sat down side by side and watched a few of your past and recent videos. Then I asked him, ‘What do you think Islamophobia is?’. His response was, ‘Someone that hates us’. 

“I said, ‘Islamophobia is one or a combination of three things: Hate, fear or ignorance’. I promised him that I would ask you this question so he can hear the answer from yourself, so with all due respect, Ms Hanson, what is the basis of your Islamophobic feelings? Hate, fear or ignorance?”

Hanson: “None of the above.”

And then she threw the alphabet in the air again. 

Somewhere, Sonia Kruger was thanking her lucky stars this other dancer with two left feet had taken the night shift.



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