After Twitter Tirade No One Wants To Ride With George Christensen MP


George Christensen, The National party’s deputy federal whip, last night launched his own personal jihad with a Twitter attack on the popular #illridewithyou campaign.

The social media campaign sprung up after Monday’s tragic Martin Place siege in Sydney, amassing more than 120,000 supporters within hours of its inception.

The campaign arose out of fears that Muslims, particularly Muslim women, would face increased persecution after the deadly Sydney siege which culminated in the deaths of two hostages early Tuesday morning.

Social media users, typically on Twitter, have been writing messages that include the hash-tag #illridewithyou, as a means of offering companionship and support to people wearing religious attire if they feel unsafe on public transport.

But Mr Christensen, who represents the federal seat of Dawson in Queensland, railed against the heartwarming show of solidarity on Wednesday evening, deriding it as a “typical lefty campaign”.

While Mr Christensen may not be a supporter of the campaign, he does sympathise with the much less successful anti-halal campaign.

Mr Christensen questioned whether there was “Terror in the Tucker Box” in a blog post on his official website.

You can read New Matilda’s recent report on the anti-halal movement here.

“I don’t know whether my grocery spend is going to fund extremists (sic) versions of that religion [Islam] or extremist religious activities,” Christensen wrote.

“I find it outrageous that some of my grocery spending could go to propagating a religion,” Mr Christensen said.

“And it seems with the vast range of products that are now halal approved, including Vegemite, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Cadbury’s Freddo Frog it’s almost impossible to escape it,” Mr Christensen complained.

The Member for Dawson, it appears, finds it impossible to escape his own bigotry and Islamophobia.

In a press release earlier this year, Christensen boasted that he had “called out Green extremist political activities as acts of terrorism” in Parliament.

“Activists’ unauthorised entry to a port to hang themselves like daft bats from a ship-loader is illegal,” Mr Christensen cannily observed, referring to a series of environmental protests in Queensland.

“North Queensland will no longer bow down to eco-terrorists and we will defend our jobs and our lifestyles and call out these gutless green germs for the terrorists they are,” Mr Christensen promised.

The MP’s Twitter tirade last night, which dragged on for four hours, and eight tweets, attracted a litany of rebukes from users concerned he was unnecessarily spreading fear and hate.

After Christensen had re-issued his denunciation of the #illridewithyou campaign, using slightly different wording, one Twitter user made the obvious observation: “Well that tweet really backfired on you didn’t it?”

“Actually, no,” Christensen replied, trying in spite of his hundreds of critics to clarify his point.

With that – the sole mention of the victim’s of Monday’s tragic events – Christensen returned to his earlier antics, again attacking the #illridewithyou campaign.

The National Party’s deputy whip then produced his ‘smoking gun’, one which he thrice re-tweeted, before repackaging the alleged ‘discovery’ in a tweet of his very own.

“The #illridewithyou campaign is proudly brought to us by another #hatingwhitey lefty activist,” Christensen said.

Christensen’s attempts to smear the woman who came up with the #illridewithyou hash-tag demonstrate that he chose never to really understand it.

The campaign – which has been embraced by hundreds of thousands of Australians, and trended around the world – recognises that Muslims face serious persecution in this country.

Even if only tokenistic, the campaign is a well-targetted rejection of that persecution and the division between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

Why would a federal parliamentarian go out of their way to stomp on that sentiment?

As Christensen’s more moderate colleague Craig Laundy pointed out:

Not Christensen, though. He signed off Twitter for the night by taunting “lefty warriors” for promoting “tolerance as virtue of all virtues, yet [being]intolerant of those with opposing views”.

The backbencher from Dawson has previously taken to Twitter to voice his support for a ban on the Burqa in parliament.

“The entire nation of France has a ban on the burqa, I mean, is the entire nation of France a nation of racists?” Christensen asked, reported Crikey (which this week included Christensen in their shortlist for their “worst person of the year” award).

To answer his question, probably not everyone in France is racist, George. Islam, of course, is not a race. But George Christensen definitely is a bigot, and his attacks on Muslims are both unhelpful and unwelcome… which was kind of the point of the #illridewithyou campaign.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.