Labor Senator Racially Abused In An Aussie Pub
A racist verbal attack on Labor Senator Sam Dastaryi that left him feeling physically threatened has been condemned by the prime minisiter and opposition leader.
The men, calling themselves working class patriots, heckled the Iranian-born senator at a Melbourne bar on Wednesday night with "You terrorist. You little monkey" and demanded to know if he was a Muslim.
"They are the sickening face of white nationalists in this country. What's happening is our politics is heading into a very, very ugly place," Senator Dastaryi told the Nine Network on Thursday.
"It makes me feel small, makes me feel horrible, it makes you feel kind of terrible and that's what they are designed to do."
One Nation rejected Senator Dastyari's portrayal of the incident.
"Sam Dastyari gets heckled because he's a wanker," Pauline Hanson's chief of staff James Ashby told AAP on Thursday. "And not because he's a Muslim."
Senator Dastyari is considering a legal response to the incident, which may have infringed race discrimination laws.
Islamophobia and racism were getting worse in Australia on both the left and right of politics, he said.
"I worry about all the people out there that have to put up with all this kind of abuse who don't have the structures that someone like I'm lucky enough to have."
Malcolm Turnbull said there was no place for racial vilification in Australia.
"That is because our society is built on a foundation of mutual respect. It should have zero tolerance for racist abuse like this," the prime minister told Seven.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was disgusted by the "ugly" incident.
"What is this country coming to when you cannot go out for a meal without being abused by racist idiots," he told Seven on Thursday.
The men from the right wing group Patriot Blue filmed the incident and posted it on their Facebook page.
When he called them racists, they replied with: "What race is Islam?"
In a Q&A session at the pub with fellow Labor MP Tim Watts, Senator Dastyari said he was regularly subjected to similar incidents because he was a Muslim.
"All of this is the rise of the radical right in this country, it is the rise of One Nation right," Senator Dastyari said.
"These are people who feel incredibly empowered because of what Pauline Hanson has done for them.
"You dance so far to the right that it gives those a little bit further out a sense of entitlement."
But One Nation
But speaking to The Today Show on Thursday, Senator Dastyari left things on a lighter note.
"They went to a bar and didn't even stay for a drink," he said. "What kind of patriots are they?"