Pauline Hanson on Q&A; Are you really a Muslim?

IT was titled "Senate Powerbrokers" but when ABC's producers of Q&A decided to put Muslim Senator Sam Dastyari and firebrand Pauline Hanson on the same panel, they were hoping for fireworks.

What they got was a bizarre moment when Hanson asked Mr Dastyari if he was "really Muslim" as he told his story of how his family came to Australia from Iran when he was five years old.

The topic arose when an audience member asked if politicians were being "naive or extremely arrogant in relation to Islam" by thinking they change attitudes of Muslims who live in, or come to Australia.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari with One Nation leader and Senator-elect Pauline Hanson on Q&A;.
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari with One Nation leader and Senator-elect Pauline Hanson on Q&A;.

Mr Dastyari said he could only take the issue personally, being a Muslim who came to Australia with his parents as a very young boy.

"When someone like Sonia Kruger goes on this morning and talks about banning Muslims from coming to the country or it's black and white in Pauline Hanson's policy document, what they're effectively saying is people like my parents shouldn't have been allowed to come to this country because of where they were born and it's hurtful and it's painful," he said.

He added:

"I have to ask: does that mean that a 5-year-old Sam Dastyari should never have been able to set foot in Australia because somewhere in Tehran there's a document that says beside my name the word "Muslim" because of where I was born?"



Ms Hanson didn't answer the question immediately but instead expressed surprise that Dastyari -- who once offered to take Ms Hanson to enjoy a "Halal Snack Pack" -- was a Muslim.

"Are you a Muslim?  Really?"

"Yeah and I have never hidden it away."

"Were you sworn in under the Quran?"

"I was born in an Islamic nation and by being born..."

"So you're a Muslim."

"By being born in an Islamic nation and under Iranian law, under Islamic law and in places like Iran and my parents fled to be able to come to this country."

"You're a practising Muslim? This is quite interesting."

Ms Hanson was pressed on the question and said it was "ridiculous" to ask her to answer it given he arrived 28 years ago.

"We're talking about what is happening now and today in the world with the terrorist attacks," she said.

"So today I couldn't come to this country?"

Host Tony Jones then steered questions elsewhere, to a questioner who asked why Ms Hanson has Islamophobic feelings.