Video

Australian Senator Harassed at Pub

Senator Sam Dastyari, an Australian of Iranian heritage, was the target of racial slurs by members of a far-right group, Patriot Blue, at a Melbourne pub.

By PATRIOT BLUE VIA STORYFUL on Publish Date November 8, 2017. Photo by William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

SYDNEY, Australia — Senator Sam Dastyari was trying to order a drink in Melbourne on Wednesday night when he was interrupted at the bar by some unfriendly patrons.

A group of three men, identifying themselves as members of Patriot Blue, a far-right group, walked up to him and began hurling racial slurs at the lawmaker, who is a member of the Australian Labor Party.

“You terrorist,” one man is heard saying in a video they uploaded to Facebook. “You little monkey.” Then, following Mr. Dastyari around the pub, they continue to throw insults his way. “Why don’t you go back to Iran, you terrorist?”

The lawmaker initially tried to brush the insults aside but then called them out.

“Honestly, I think you guys are a bunch of racists. I don’t have time for you,” said Mr. Dastyari, who is of Iranian heritage and a nonpracticing Muslim.

In a radio interview Thursday morning, Mr. Dastyari said the rise of white nationalism needed to be confronted.

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“We are heading to this horrible place in our politics where you can’t have civil disagreement, you can’t have civil debate,” he said on ABC Melbourne.

After the video spread around the internet, politicians from both major parties in Australia condemned the slurs aimed at Mr. Dastyari.

“There is no room for racial vilification in Australia,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the “Sunrise” program on Channel Seven on Thursday. He added that the country should have “zero tolerance of racism.”

Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, called the men “disgusting” on Channel Seven.

“What is this country coming to, when you can’t go out and have a meal without being abused by idiots, and by racist idiots?” he added.

But one of the men in the video, Neil Erikson, told a Melbourne radio show Thursday that it was Mr. Dastyari who was being racist — by calling him a “redneck.”

“It is a racial slur against white people,” he said. “I turned around and called him a terrorist — I think it’s fair.”

Patriot Blue was also involved in a protest in September against a Melbourne council’s support for changing the date of Australia Day. Some Indigenous Australians are critical of the holiday, which is celebrated on a day that marks the arrival of the first British settlers in 1788.

Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s race discrimination commissioner, said the harassment of the senator raised alarms about the prevalence of such thinking in Australia.

“There is a risk of racial abuse and harassment being normalized in our public life,” he said. “This cannot become the new normal in our society.”

Continue reading the main story

SYDNEY, Australia — Senator Sam Dastyari was trying to order a drink in Melbourne on Wednesday night when he was interrupted at the bar by some unfriendly patrons.

A group of three men, identifying themselves as members of Patriot Blue, a far-right group, walked up to him and began hurling racial slurs at the lawmaker, who is a member of the Australian Labor Party.

“You terrorist,” one man is heard saying in a video they uploaded to Facebook. “You little monkey.” Then, following Mr. Dastyari around the pub, they continue to throw insults his way. “Why don’t you go back to Iran, you terrorist?”

The lawmaker initially tried to brush the insults aside but then called them out.

“Honestly, I think you guys are a bunch of racists. I don’t have time for you,” said Mr. Dastyari, who is of Iranian heritage and a nonpracticing Muslim.

In a radio interview Thursday morning, Mr. Dastyari said the rise of white nationalism needed to be confronted.

“We are heading to this horrible place in our politics where you can’t have civil disagreement, you can’t have civil debate,” he said on ABC Melbourne.

After the video spread around the internet, politicians from both major parties in Australia condemned the slurs aimed at Mr. Dastyari.

“There is no room for racial vilification in Australia,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the “Sunrise” program on Channel Seven on Thursday. He added that the country should have “zero tolerance of racism.”

Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, called the men “disgusting” on Channel Seven.

“What is this country coming to, when you can’t go out and have a meal without being abused by idiots, and by racist idiots?” he added.

But one of the men in the video, Neil Erikson, told a Melbourne radio show Thursday that it was Mr. Dastyari who was being racist — by calling him a “redneck.”

“It is a racial slur against white people,” he said. “I turned around and called him a terrorist — I think it’s fair.”

Patriot Blue was also involved in a protest in September against a Melbourne council’s support for changing the date of Australia Day. Some Indigenous Australians are critical of the holiday, which is celebrated on a day that marks the arrival of the first British settlers in 1788.

Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s race discrimination commissioner, said the harassment of the senator raised alarms about the prevalence of such thinking in Australia.

“There is a risk of racial abuse and harassment being normalized in our public life,” he said. “This cannot become the new normal in our society.”

Nytimes

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