Rightwing Australian politicians attack girl, 9, over anthem protest
Queensland Rightwing Australian politicians attack girl, 9, over anthem protest
Harper Nielsen refused to stand up during national anthem, to show support for Indigenous peoples
A nine-year-old Australian schoolgirl has been targeted for condemnation by prominent rightwing polit icians after she refused to stand during a rendition of the national anthem, arguing that it airbrushes Indigenous peoples from the countryâs history.
Harper Nielsenâs parents said they were proud of her for the protest, which earned her a detention â" and reportedly the threat of suspension from school.
But the child was attacked by politicians, including her state senator, Pauline Hanson, the leader of the rightwing One Nation party.
âTake her out of school,â Hanson said in a video posted on Facebook, in which she also labelled her a âbratâ. She attacked the nine-year-oldâs parents, saying: âI tell you what, Iâd give her a kick up the backside.â
Her choice of language was echoed by Jarrod Bleijie, a shadow minister in the Queensland parliament and a member of the centre-right Liberal National party. The politician claimed the childâs parents were âusing her as a political pawnâ, called her protest âsillyâ and demanded that she âstand and sing proudly your national anthemâ.
He posted on Twitter: âRefusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat.â
Nielsen told local media the Australian anthem marginalised a whole section of the nationâs population. âWhen it says Advance Australia Fair, it means advance the white people. And, when it says âwe are youngâ, it completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us for 50,000 years,â she told 9NEWS.
She added that she was not someone who abides âby the rules of older people just because theyâre olderâ.
She did so as a wider debate goes on in Australia over the suitability of the anthemâs lyrics. Last year there were calls to introduce a version that gave greater recognition to the Indigenous peoples.
Her protest also drew comparisons with the US sportsman Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthe m to highlight social and racial injustice in the United States.
The campaign group Recognition in Anthem said the reference to Australians as a âyoungâ people âexcludes those Australians whose ongoing culture and connection with our land is not young at all, but ancientâ. It says the lyrics were âwritten in 1878, in the colonial eraâ.
On Wednesday Nielsenâs father, Mark, told ABC radio: âSheâs shown incredible bravery in wanting to stick to what she believes in and to make a stance for what she believes is right.â
There were reports the school had threatened her with suspension and her mother, Yvette Miller, said: âWe were surprised behaviour such as a passive non-participation might be considered in the same realm as something like bringing a knife to school or being violent towards others.â
According to 9News, the Australian Department of Education released a statement saying âat no timeâ did the school threaten to suspend o r exclude her for refusing to take part in the national anthem.Topics
- Indigenous Australians
- Race issues
- Pauline Hanson
- Australian education
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share on Google+
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content