SYDNEY, Australia (Dec. 16)
Members of the Australian Jewish community and Christian leaders have condemned the statements of a member of Parliament who called on all immigrants to conform to the “Australian way of life.”
That way of life, according to parliamentarian Pauline Hanson, includes the singing of Christmas carols.
Hanson, who was elected to the Australian Parliament in March, made the comments during a debate last week concerning immigration legislation.
Expelled from the Liberal Party because of her racist comments before her election to Parliament, Hanson urged the government to penalize immigrants who had not learned English.
She also said that while the singing of carols and hymns in Australian schools is common, there are exceptions to the rule because immigrants “come here to our country and start changing our culture and way of life because it offends them.”
Rabbi Brian Fox, president of the New South Wales Council of Christians and Jews, described Hanson’s comments as the “ravings of an uninformed ignoramus.”
He said Hanson “is pushing the limits of Australian tolerance, and I call on the prime minister to condemn her.”
Some church leaders also joined Fox in criticizing Hanson’s remarks.
Although Australia does not have a formal separation of church and state, it has become common practice in recent years for public institutions to recognize that not all Australians are Christian.