Candidate refers to Islam as country


A candidate for Australia’s anti-immigration One Nation party dropped out of the election race Saturday after a blundering interview in which she referred to Islam as a country.

Stephanie Banister, 27, had been campaigning for just 48 hours when she gave the interview to the Seven Network. It quickly went viral online and led to her being labeled “Australia’s Sarah Palin,” after the 2008 U.S. vice presidential candidate.

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia,” Banister said in Wednesday’s taping. She went on to say only 2 percent of Australians follow “haram” — actually meaning the Koran — and muddied matters further by voicing her support for kosher foods for Jews. “Jews aren’t under haram. They have their own religion, which follows Jesus Christ,” she said of Judaism, which in fact sees Jesus as an ordinary man and not the messiah.

Banister on Saturday withdrew her candidacy for the Sept. 7 election, which she was contesting for anti-immigration firebrand Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party in Queensland.

Party leader Jim Savage denied that Banister had been dropped and said she still has the “full support of the One Nation executive.”

“However, due to the threats against Stephanie’s family, herself, her children, the abuse she’s copped and the enormous pressure she’s been put under, Stephanie has decided she wants to withdraw from the candidacy for the seat of Rankin,” Savage said. “We have accepted it with regret.”