The New South Wales education minister, Rob Stokes, has urged school principals to throw anti-Islamic letters from One Nation in the nearest recycling bin, saying “perhaps then some good may still come from it”.
Stokes is the latest to denounce One Nation senator Brian Burston for letters he sent to NSW schools last week, warning principals their children risked becoming “terror-endorsing Islamists” whose religion required the killing of westerners.
The letters, obtained by Guardian Australia, drew immediate condemnation for their wild inaccuracies, divisiveness and tendency to incite hatred against Muslims.
Stokes condemned Burston’s letter as “hate mail”. He said it ran contrary to two hallmarks of western liberal civilisation Burston purported to protect: tolerance and inclusion.
“I strongly suggest to principals that they place all correspondence from the One Nation senator in the nearest recycling bin when it arrives,” Stokes said. “Perhaps then, some good may still come from it.”
Burston’s letter claims Islam is incompatible with the Australian way of life, and attaches a brochure titled Islam Exposed.
The security and intelligence expert John Blaxland warned the letter would simply serve to fuel the messages of Islamic State and help the terror group’s recruitment efforts.
The letter came to the attention of the NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi last week. She has now written to the Australian Human Rights Commission requesting an investigation.
“The letter is divisive and offensive and has no place in our communities and schools,” Faruqi wrote.
“I am referring this letter to you and would be grateful for your advice as to whether or not the letter breaches any federal human rights laws.”
The letter used the Senate letterhead. No reference to One Nation was made.
Stokes said the letter was a waste of taxpayer funds, and would not help to deradicalise students.
“The best way to suppress the potential for extremism is not to divide us, but to promote the Australian values we all share,” he said.
“By celebrating our history and the culture of our country, we want to focus our young minds on values such as upholding democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”