A right-wing nationalist Australian political candidate seems to think that Islam is a “country” unto itself, one that she claims she does not oppose. Stephanie Banister, 27, running under the banner of the anti-immigrant One Nation party in Queensland, delivered an embarrassing television interview that revealed her ignorance. "I don't oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia," she told Australia’s Channel 7 network.
Banister also spoke out against "Halal" foods, but she cited that "less than 2 per cent of Australians follow Haram." (“Haram” in Arabic means something that is forbidden or considered sinful by Islam, while “Halal” refers to foods that Muslims are permitted to eat. Banister probably mean to say ‘Quran,” the Islam holy book.). She then waded deeper into murky waters by defending the kosher foods eaten by Jews, although she seems to misunderstand one of the fundamental precepts of Judaism. "Jews aren't under Haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ," she said.
"They [the Jews] don't have a tax on it, they've just got a certain way of making it where Haram has a tax on the food," In addition, Banister was asked her views on the Australian government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. "I believe that the disability scheme is working at the moment," she said (except for the minor fact that the NDIS will not actually commence until 2016).
Banister, a welder by profession, is the longest of long shots to win a House of Representatives seat in her constituency of Rankin against Liberal David Lin and Labor party member Jim Chalmers. That position was formerly held by the retiring Labor MP, Craig Emerson. (Banister admitted she didn’t know who her opponents in the September election would be. "I'm still learning all of the names of people in politics,” she explained. “Everyone in the world has a lot to learn about day-to-day stuff and everything in life is just about learning."
As it turns out Banister, a mother of two children, is already facing criminal charges in connection with anti-Muslim activity, including placing stickers that say "Beware! Halal food funds terrorism" on Nestle products in a grocery store. If she is convicted of a criminal offense, the Australian Electoral Commission may rule that Bannister cannot run for public office.
For the record, Banister later clarified her statements to Fairfax Media by asserting that she had meant to say “Islamic countries.” “Unfortunately, they've completely twisted all my words and made me out to be a standup criminal and a stupid moron," she said.