Twitter Far-right Army Attacks Aussie Muslims

Twitter Far-right Army Attacks Aussie Muslims

A post by Mariam Veiszadeh four months ago on a T-shirt deemed discriminatory has opened gates of fire on her, after a supremacist website implored its "troll army" to "be as nasty, hurtful, hateful, offensive, insulting and 'vilifying' as you possibly can."

A post by Mariam Veiszadeh four months ago on a T-shirt deemed discriminatory has opened gates of fire on her, after a supremacist website implored its "troll army" to "be as nasty, hurtful, hateful, offensive, insulting and 'vilifying' as you possibly can."

"The reality is people don't abuse me just because I'm a woman or because my name is Mariam or because I'm Middle-Eastern," Veiszadeh told CNN on Saturday, February 28.

“They abuse me because I have a scarf on my head and because I'm a Muslim,” Veiszadeh, an Australian lawyer and founder of the Islamophobia Register, which tracks instances of abuse against Muslims, added. 

The story dates back to last October when Veiszadeh posted an image of a T-shirt for sale in Woolworths, one of Australia's biggest retailers, which showed the Australian flag with the words "If you don't love it, leave."

Calling the shirt "bigoted," a flood of complaints followed and the shirt was withdrawn from sale.

Woolworths apologized and blamed an ordering error, saying it "should never have been on our shelves."

Nevertheless, the story was far from over for far-right extremist.

Three months later, the Australian Defence League (ADL), a right-wing group that's calling for Islam to be banned in Australia, posted Veiszadeh's tweet on its Facebook site, along with another one she posted saying "Everyone is entitled to dress as they please," with the title "Hypocrisy Much?"

The post attracted dozens of offensive comments and abusive tweets, especially supremacist website the Daily Stormer which implored its "troll army" to attack her. 

Not Silenced

Veiszadeh is adamant the campaign of intimidation will not be successful.

"If their stated objective is to silence me, then my stated objective is to do the exact opposite," she said.

On the other hand, Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane says the country's current laws under the Racial Discrimination Act "send an important message to bigots and racists."

"Those who peddle messages of hatred should be made to answer for their extremism. And they should know that the rest of Australian society rejects their promotion of fear and division," he said.

But Veiszadeh lamented the fact that the Racial Discrimination Act does not cover attacks on a person based on their religious beliefs.

Of the Queensland woman due to face court, Veiszadeh said, "Had this woman not referred to my ethnicity, I would have absolutely no grounds to take action against her."

For now, she is trying to fight hate back, urging her 15,000 followers to block their accounts.

Elsewhere, support has been growing on twitter where #IStandWithMariam hashtag was launched to defend Mariam.

"I'm still getting horrifying images and abusive tweets but, as bad as that sounds, I've become accustomed to it,” Veiszadeh said.

“I've developed a thick skin and for me it's about exposing bigotry and raising awareness about Islamophobia."

The website asked its followers to "be as nasty, hurtful, hateful, offensive, insulting and 'vilifying' as you possibly can."

The campaign was called to avenge a 22-year-old woman from Ipswich, in the Australian state of Queensland who been charged with "using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense" and is due to appear on court on March 11.

The post attracted dozens of offensive comments. Abusive tweets followed but the campaign took a more sinister and organized  twist when the Daily Stormer implored its "troll army" to attack her.  

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