Australian politicians and a Muslim leader condemned on Tuesday comments by a government lawmaker who suggested that allowing an abortion drug could lead to a disproportionate growth of the Muslim population.
Australia’s main opposition Labor described the comments by former veterans affairs minister Danna Vale as “dopey”, ignorant, offensive and “seriously weird”.
Vale was accused of fueling racist, anti-Muslim sentiments after she said she was concerned about the ramifications abortion would have for the future make-up of Australia, where Muslims currently comprises 1.5 percent of the population of 20 million.
Vale said she had read in a Sydney newspaper a comment by an Muslim imam that Australia would be a Muslim nation in 50 years. “I didn’t believe him at the time, but when you actually look at the birth rates and you look at the fact that we (non Muslims) are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by 100,000 abortions every year,” Vale told reporters late on Monday. “You multiple that by 50 years, that’s 5 million potential Australians we won’t have here.”
Vale’s remarks came ahead of a vote by the lower house of parliament this week on whether to scrap a government veto on abortion drug RU-486. The upper house Senate voted last week to remove the power of the health minister – conservative, Catholic, anti-abortionist Tony Abbott – to veto applications from firms and doctors who want to import and prescribe RU-486.
Her remarks came two months after racial violence rocked the beachside suburbs of Sydney, where white Australians clashed with youths of Middle East appearance. Vale’s seat borders some of the Sydney areas hit by the violence.
“It will foster religious intolerance and misunderstanding, and what we need in this country – and what we badly need throughout the world – is better religious understanding and tolerance,” Labor politician Kelvin Thomson told reporters.
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils President Ameer Ali said Vale had gone overboard. “How low can this person get to in terms of racism? This is the most racist comment I have ever seen,” he told Australian radio.
Lyn Allison, leader of the minority Australian Democrats, said Vale should be reprimanded by Prime Minister John Howard. “I think the prime minister should come out and say that was ill-considered and that she ought to apologise,” Allison said.
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said she was surprised by Vale’s comments, which she described as ill-founded because in 50 years time Australia would still be an English-speaking, multiculturally diverse society. “Australia will remain what it is today,” she told reporters.
Vale’s paranoid, racist take on demographics chimes in with Mark Steyn’s own anti-Muslim bigotry. In an article entitled “Salute Danna Vale” Steyn writes:
“When the fastest-breeding demographic group on the planet is also the one most resistant to the pieties of the social-democratic state that’s a profound challenge…. In the ’70s and ’80, Muslims had children – those self-detonating Islamists in London and Gaza and Bali are a literal baby boom – while westerners took all those silly books about overpopulation seriously. A people that won’t multiply can’t go forth or go anywhere.”