Trump administration lists Pauline Hanson’s One Nation a threat to religious freedom

The Trump administration has listed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party as a threat to religious freedom in a new report released in Washington.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released the annual assessment of religious persecution and intolerance on Wednesday, using a chapter on Australia to highlight Senator Hanson’s 2016 maiden speech to the Senate in which she claimed the country was “in danger of being swamped by Muslims”.

One Nation has repeatedly praised Mr Trump’s policies on trade and immigration, with Senator Hanson and Queensland colleague Malcolm Roberts drinking champagne to celebrate his win over Democrat Hillary Clinton outside Parliament House after last year’s presidential election.

The report says the party’s four senators were elected on the back of a “platform which included ceasing Muslim immigration, 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.

Referring to Senator Hanson’s maiden speech citing fears of Muslim immigration, the report notes opposition from the government.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disagreed with her views and said ‘my commitment is to an inclusive multicultural society which is based on mutual respect. The more we respect each other the more secure we become’,” the report said.

A spokesman for Senator Hanson has been contacted for comment.

Earlier this month, NSW One Nation senator Brian Burston was criticised for a Facebook post listing the rise of a group of Muslim-Australian politicians and asking if voters were “awake yet”.

The report lists a range of changes to rights and protections for religious followers in Australia, including moves by the ACT Parliament to make it a crime to vilify someone based on their religion and the Victoria state government’s decision to remove religious education from the public school curriculum last year.

Among religiously motivated crimes, the report lists vandalism against Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues, harassment of religious followers and an attack in March 2016 in which three Muslim schoolgirls had their hijabs forcibly removed and were punched and abused by a group of youths in Geelong.

It notes a High Court challenge to the construction of a mosque in the Victorian goldfields city of Bendigo and protests in the Melbourne suburb of Melton in which about 150 members of nationalist groups opposed the construction of a housing development, dubbed a “Muslim housing estate”.

“In June Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull became the first sitting prime minister to host an iftar and stated ‘the Australian Muslim community is valued and respected – and it is not confined to a narrow security prism – you are an integral part of an Australian family that rests on the essential foundation of mutual respect and understanding’.”

The report notes the opening of each session of Parliament is marked by recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a tradition opposed by the Greens and other groups.

Globally, the report said the Islamic State group is among the greatest threats to religious freedoms and is responsible for genocide against religious minorities. It says US allies including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have failed to uphold some principles of religious freedom.

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