Earlier this week, the Reverend Fred Nile, a Christian Democratic Party representative in the NSW Legislative Council, said that the government should ban the wearing of the chador by Muslim women because it could be used to conceal weapons and explosives.
This is the text of the statement released by Senator Andrew Bartlett, leader of the Australian Democrats.
The Australian Democrats have criticised Prime Minister John Howard for not unequivocally condemning NSW MP Fred Nile's attacks on Muslim women.
Democrat Leader and spokesperson for multiculturalism, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said such dangerous, ignorant and inflammatory remarks should not be given any credence by our nation's Leaders.
"John Howard's 'softly, softly' response to Fred Nile's attacks, reeks of the same quiet nods he gave to some of Pauline Hanson's extremist statements."
"This is a classic case of 'dog-whistle' politics. By refusing to condemn these statements, Mr Howard is sending signals that he is prepared to tolerate racial stereotyping and prejudice without specifically saying so."
"Mr Howard's refusal to directly confront Pauline Hanson's attacks on Asians and Aborigines in 1996 gave her comments a respectability they didn't deserve," Senator Bartlett said.
"Howard should have learnt from Hanson that this sort of rabid politics cannot be kept on a leash.
"It is the job of a Leader to confront ignorance and apprehension in the community, not to give credence to it."
"It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to, again, say 'a lot of people agree with those views' just as he did with Hanson in 1996.
"The Democrats unequivocally condemn Fred Nile's comments about Muslim women's clothing and beliefs as ignorant and beneath contempt. The Prime Minister should do the same."
"Fred Nile knows about as much about the threat of terrorism as he does about women's clothing," Senator Bartlett concluded.