Australia’s One Nation Candidate Quits Poll Over Islam Comments

A candidate for the anti-immigration One Nation party in Australia’s Sept. 7 general election resigned from the campaign after her comments criticizing Islam in a television interview attracted ridicule.

Stephanie Banister, who was running in the Brisbane seat of Rankin for the party founded in 1997 by Pauline Hanson, had withdrawn her candidacy after receiving threats, One Nation spokesman Rod Evans said by phone today. Banister “could be Australia’s answer to Sarah Palin”, the Boston-based news website Global Post wrote in an Aug. 8 article describing the interview as “cringe-worthy”.

“I don’t oppose Islam, as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia,” Banister said in an interview with Channel 7 broadcast Aug. 7. “Less than 2 percent of Australians follow haram,” she told the broadcaster owned by Seven West Media Ltd.

“Haram” describes something that is sinful or prohibited in Islam. About 2.2 percent of Australia’s population said they were Muslims in the country’s 2010 census.

She objects to Muslim halal food and didn’t have a problem with Jewish kosher products, Banister said in the interview, because “Jews aren’t under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ.”

The One Nation party opposes all net immigration and wants to abolish Australia’s 1975 law banning racial discrimination. It’s fielding 10 Senate candidates and at least nine members in the governing House of Representatives in the poll, according to the party’s website.

The party won a seat in Australia’s 76-person Senate in the country’s 1998 federal election and has since seen its primary vote share drop to about 0.5 percent in the Senate and 0.2 percent in the House in the most recent 2010 ballot.

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