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Campaign to reinstate hijab ad grows legs

20 January 20170 comments

A crowd funding campaign has raised tens of thousands of dollars to reinstate an Australia Day advertising billboard featuring two young girls in hijabs.

The billboard, commissioned by the Victorian Government, was taken down after advertising company QMS received threats and abuse appeared on right-wing social media sites.

The electronic billboard at Cranbourne, in Melbourne’s south-east, was part of a campaign to promote Australia Day events in the city and showed two girls wearing hijabs celebrating Australia Day last year.

More than 1,000 people have given money to the campaign to reinstate the billboard.

Behind the campaign is Dee Madigan, Executive Creative Director of Campaign Edge advertising agency.

Ms Madigan said the idea of a replacement billboard was to show the community that most Australians are not racists”.

“I’m really angry, this was a photo of two young Australian girls celebrating Australia Day,” she told The Project TV show.

“I feel for the Muslim community, they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

“You get all the racists saying ‘oh, they don’t assimilate’ and then there’s literally a photo of them celebrating Australia Day and you get the same people saying ‘that’s not right’ – it’s just not OK,” Ms Madigan said.

The campaign had originally stated a goal of $50,000 but it was reached in just hours, so has been increased to $100,000.

“We’ll just let it keep going, because if we get enough we’ll put a billboard up in every city,” Ms Madigan said.

The United Patriots Front, a far-right group opposed to immigration, published an image of the billboard on its Facebook page on January 13, which was widely shared.

The group posted again recently to inform their followers that the billboard had been taken down.

Victoria’s Multicultural Commission Helen Kapalos said the racism being experienced by the Islamic community was unprecedented and was eliciting “genuine fear”.

“Racism is cyclical, but this brand of racism is not something that we’ve seen before and not encountered before, and I believe that this will have to be a sustained campaign,” she said.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist