Australian Senator Fraser Anning blames Muslims for the shootings at two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 49 dead in their places of worship.
The politician drew immediate criticism after he released a statement on Friday declaring that the shooter ― an avowed white supremacist ― was motivated not by bigotry but by the “increasing Muslim presence” in Australia and New Zealand.
“Whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence,” he wrote. “Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators.”
This bigoted and dangerous point of view is one that Anning has been peddling for some time. In August, he called for a “final solution” to the Muslim “immigration problem,” evoking a reference to the Nazis’ “final solution” terminology used to target Jews during the Holocaust.
Anning’s final solution ― a vote to ban Muslims from the country ― was ignored and lawmakers across the aisle came together to decry the racist politician.
Obviously, the condemnation didn’t deter him.
Just incredible: As 49 Muslim worshippers lay dead in New Zealand, a sitting Australian senator blames “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand”. pic.twitter.com/13w7aAK8IR
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 15, 2019
Anning’s entire persona was born of Islamophobia, and nearly every tweet and speech he makes contains anti-Muslim tirades. After the attack, he doubled down, declaring a “link between Muslim immigration and violence,” despite the fact that Friday’s mass shooting, described as the deadliest in New Zealand’s history, actually targeted Muslims.
Anning’s statements echo messaging that the shooter himself says he was influenced by. The suspect, whose identity has not been confirmed, appears to have publicly posted a 74-page manifesto to Twitter and the online forum 8chan in which he repeatedly declared his hatred for Muslims who had immigrated to predominantly white countries.
Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?
— Senator Fraser Anning (@fraser_anning) March 15, 2019
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other politicians roundly condemned Anning over his latest statement, and Morrison characterized it as “disgusting.”
“Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament,” Morrison tweeted. Politicians outside of the country went even further ― British Home Secretary Sajid Javid accused Anning directly of “fanning the flames” that lead to such attacks.
At a time for grieving and reflection, this Australian senator @fraser_anning fans the flames of violence & extremism. Australians will be utterly ashamed of this racist man. In no way does he represent our Australian friends https://t.co/uzezIeNjbN
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) March 15, 2019
It’s unclear what new consequences may befall Anning, who was elected on a fluke in the first place. Though he received only 19 votes in the country’s 2016 election, he was ushered in after his party received enough votes to get guaranteed Senate seats.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.