Australian lawmaker censured after blaming Muslims for New Zealand mosque shootings

A right-wing Australian senator was formally censured by his colleagues in the nation's Senate on Wednesday after he sparked international outrage last month by blaming shootings at two mosques in New Zealand on Muslims.

According to the BBC, Sen. Fraser Anning earned bipartisan condemnation on Wednesday for his "inflammatory and divisive" comments in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack that left 50 people dead.

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Anning reportedly called the Australian Senate’s move to censure him, which marks the fifth time the legislature has done taken such action in the past decade, an “attack on free speech.”

The decision by his colleagues came in response to remarks he made on the day of the March 15 attack on mosques in Christchurch.

“I am utterly opposed to any form of violence within our community, and I totally condemn the actions of the gunman,” the far-right independent politician wrote in a statement at the time.

“However, whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence.”

“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” he added.

The Queensland senator also went on to say he believed the “truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”

Anning's colleagues wrote in the censure that Anning sought to "attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion” with the inflammatory comments, according to the BBC.

Although the censure does not reportedly carry any practical punishment for Anning, the move is regarded as an official condemnation.

According to the international news agency, lawmakers in the country can only be removed from office if they have been convicted of a crime, hold any other office, are dual citizens, or have gone bankrupt, among a number of reasons.