Australia’s largest ever petition, started by Sydney neurologist Kate Ahmad to protest against hate speech by Senator Fraser Anning, is on track to get 1.5 million signatures.
Dr Ahmad, a Staff Specialist at Royal North Shore Hospital, launched the petition in the wake of the white supremacist terrorist massacre in Christchurch, in which 50 people were killed.
The petition, which has become the largest ever for Change.org in Australia, called on the government to assist in removing Senator Anning from parliament after he blamed the killings in Christchurch on “the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place”.
Dr Ahmad, whose special interests include neuro-ophthalmology and neurogenetics, said there was a need for Parliament to take action on the many other offensive remarks made by Senator Anning, including his notorious “Final Solution” anti-immigrant speech.
“We request that he be pushed to resign from his position as Senator, and if appropriate, be investigated by law enforcement agencies for supporting right wing terrorism,” she wrote in the petition directed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“[We are] demanding a resignation from this man who blames victims for their own violent deaths, and uses references to genocide to further his hateful agenda. There is no place in Australian government for Neo-Nazis. There is no place for bigotry. There is no place for hate speech.”
In an update posted on 19 March, Dr Ahmad acknowledged the government did not have the legal power to sack the Senator, but said the petition could be used to help bring in a Parliamentary code of conduct against hate speech.
The petition also worked “to roundly condemn words and sentiments which are not conducive to peaceful society and to speak out against vile speech which discriminates, wounds and foments hate,” she added.
“We have made it very clear that we do not want our leaders to discriminate. We do not want them to use tragedies to further their own hateful political agenda. We want leaders who are inclusive, civil and decent.”