In protest of the repeal of an interim rule requiring people with facial coverings such as burqas to be seated separately from the public galleries, one Australian protester wore a Ku Klux Klan hood in Parliament. The protester was accompanied by a man wearing a motorcycle helmet and another man wearing a niqab, and all three men attempted to enter the Australian Parliament House on Monday, October 27.
Presiding officers of Parliament made a rule on October 2 for people wearing facial coverings to sit in a separate area usually reserved for schoolchildren and required all visitors to temporarily remove their garments at the entrance. The rule was intended to keep protesters dressed in concealing garments from entering Parliament. However, after harsh criticism of the rule, it was repealed starting on Monday.
— MoronWatch (@moronwatch) October 27, 2014
The protesters, identified as Sergio Redegalli, Nick Folkes and Victor Waterson, said that they were part of a group called “Faceless” and were opposed to the wearing of the burqa in public places. They also strongly believed that the “polictical ideology” of Islam was “contrary” to Australian beliefs.
Police reportedly stopped the protestors as they made their way from the Old Parliament House to the Parliament House forecourt. The protestors were told that the Klu Klux hood and motorcycle helmet would have to be taken off, but the person wearing the niqab was allowed to keep it on. In the end, all three men were screened as part of normal procedures and emerged without their facial coverings.
Since the facial coverings brought by the protesters were apparently considered as “protest paraphernalia,” the Department of Parliamentary Services required removal of the coverings. This was reportedly in accordance with a longstanding policy that protest paraphernalia was only allowed in authorized assembly areas but not in other areas of Parliament.
The Australian Christian Lobby’s Queensland director, Wendy Francis, said that the protest was hurtful to Muslim women in the country and that it was “distressing” to see a Klu Klux Klan outfit in Parliament. “To identify that [the KKK] with a Muslim woman is extremely confronting and hurtful,” said Francis.