What? Bet you thought I was going to refer to the Regressive Left, right.
Crowdfunding raises $50,000 for new Australia Day campaign with girls in hijabs
Campaign hits fundraising target in first seven hours, while a separate petition calls to reinstate the Australia Day billboard
Anti-racism campaigners have called for the return of an Australia Day billboard in Melbourne which was taken down after the company allegedly received threats over the inclusion of a photo showing two young Muslim girls.
The billboard, which advertised an RACV-sponsored festival in Kings Domain Gardens, included rolling photographs: one showed two young girls wearing hijabs and holding Australian flags.
The picture was taken at last year’s Australia Day event in Docklands, but a photograph of it on the billboard was posted to the Facebook page of the far-right group United Patriots Front, sparking hundreds of complaints and bigoted comments.
After threats were received, the billboard was removed by the outdoor media company which hosted it, according to the Victorian minister for multicultural affairs, Robin Scott.
“There were a series of complaints, some of which were of an abusive and threatening nature, that were made to the organisation QMS that put the billboard up,” Scott said.
A spokesman for QMS said the company would not be making any comment in relation to threats that “may or may not have been made”. The spokesman referred questions to Scott and refused to comment on whether the alleged threats had been investigated or referred to police before the decision was made to remove the billboard.
Scott did not respond to requests for comment, and Victoria police said it was unable to comment for privacy reasons.
On Wednesday a crowdfunding campaign by the Campaign Edge advertising agency called for the girls’ photograph to be reprinted on posters and in a campaign. Within seven hours, the campaign had raised its initial $50,000 target and increased it to $100,000 to fund “multiple billboards across Australia”. Any leftover money will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
“The same groups who complain ‘Muslims don’t assimilate’ complained about the photo of Australian Muslims celebrating Australia Day,” the fund’s page said. “Due to this pressure the poster was removed.”
The girls in the photo and their family were well aware of the incident and the furore it sparked, a lawyer and community rights advocate, Mariam Veiszadeh, told Guardian Australia.
Veiszadeh said the whole thing came as a “shock and surprise” to the family, who were unaware the 12-month-old photograph was on the billboard until this week.
She said the family were concerned about the impact the response from far-right groups was having on the girls, who were old enough to understand what was happening, but were heartened by messages of support from the public.
“Would they have rathered this never happened? Yes. But now it has they’re cognisant of the fact the images are already out there and they don’t have any control over that.”
The family supported the campaign to have the girls’ picture returned to the billboard or included in another campaign, said Veiszadeh.
“From my perspective I explained we could associate those images with something positive, and the girls’ time in the media spotlight would be accompanied by thousands speaking up against Islamophobia, gathered around them to stand in support and solidarity,” she said.
A local community activist group, Casey Against Racism, launched a petition calling for the billboard to be returned, and had gathered more than 4,500 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.
“We will not allow rightwing extremists to set the tone and define what is and isn’t Australian,” said a spokeswoman for the group. “People who are afraid of smiling little girls need to take a serious look at themselves. Cranbourne is a very diverse suburb in a multicultural country.”
Most of the responses to the United Patriot Front’s Facebook post suggested the inclusion of the two girls’ photograph was not a depiction of Australian culture.
They also included various accusations the young girls were “the enemy”, unsubstantiated claims that Anzac Day commemorations were being cancelled in the Blue Mountains, and suggested Australia Day was an event akin to the Islamic observance of Ramadan.
Some threatened to pull the sign down themselves if it was seen in their state, despite it advertising a local Melbourne event.
The vast majority responded apparently unaware that the image was one of several that rolled through on the billboard.
The minister for multicultural affairs said on Tuesday it was disappointing to see a small minority attacking people for their love of the country. “Anyone who considers this a victory needs a refresher on the true meaning of Australia Day,” Scott said.
The photo in question is
I think both the left and right seem to get easily triggered. Bunch of snowflakes.