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The Timing Of Pauline Hanson's Burqa Stunt Should Hardly Come As A Surprise

She was singled out by the U.S. in a new report on threats to religious freedom.

17/08/2017 5:00 PM AEST | Updated 17/08/2017 5:12 PM AEST

Pauline Hanson shocked the Senate on Thursday as she mockingly wore a burqa to Federal parliament, less 24 hours after Donald Trump's administration singled out the One Nation leader and her colleagues in a report on threats to religious freedom.

It's hardly a coincidence.

Hanson, who bore the brunt of a blistering take-down in the chamber by the Attorney General following her stunt, was already on the receiving end of bad press when she strolled into the Senate chambers wearing full burqa Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. State Department's annual assessment of religious persecution and intolerance used its chapter on Australia to highlight Hanson's 2016 maiden speech to the Senate -- the speech where she claimed the country was "in danger of being swamped by Muslims".

In neutral language, but under a section called Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom, the report noted PHON's four senators were elected on the back of a "platform which included ceasing Muslim immigration".

"(As well as) holding a royal commission on Islam, halting construction of mosques, installing surveillance cameras in mosques, banning wearing of the burqa and niqab in public places, and prohibiting members of parliament from being sworn in under the Quran," the report said.

Andrew Meares
Senator Pauline Hanson wears a burqa during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 17 August 2017.

The report also noted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disagreed with her views and highlighted his comments that his "commitment is to an inclusive multicultural society which is based on mutual respect. The more we respect each other the more secure we become".

Delivering the report, U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said religious persecution and intolerance remained "far too prevalent."

"No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs."

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi said on Thursday while he agreed with One Nation's stance on banning head coverings, he didn't condone with Hanson's "blunt" stunt.

"I happen to agree the burqa has no place in Australia... so I accept the point but I really do think it diminished the status of the Parliament," Bernardi told 2GB radio.

"I don't agree with stunts by politicians. I actually care about the standards of the Parliament."

The latest census shows Christianity remains the most common religion in Australia, at 52 percent of the population.

Islam (2.6 percent) and Buddhism (2.4 percent) were the next most common religions reported, while nearly a third of Australians (30 percent) reported in the Census that they had no religion in 2016.

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