10 Aug 2013

Candidate mistakes Islam for country

1:53 pm on 10 August 2013

An Australian election candidate who referred to Islam as a country during a television appearance has withdrawn from the campaign.

Stephanie Banister was running for the Brisbane electorate of Rankin for the anti-immigration One Nation party formerly led by Pauline Hanson.

"I don't oppose Islam as a country," she said when interviewed this week by Australia's Channel 7 News, "but I do feel that their laws should not be welcomed here."

The 27-year-old also appeared to have misunderstood Judaism. "Jews, under haram, they have their own religion which follows Jesus Christ," she said.

Ms Banister then repeatedly used the word haram - meaning forbidden in Arabic - when she apparently meant to say halal, which means the opposite and is commonly used to refer to the Islamic laws on food preparation.

The error-ridden interview has gone viral on the internet and led commentators to make comparisons with former US vice-presidential candidate Sara Palin who became famous for media slip-ups.

One Nation leader Jim Savage told reporters on Saturday Ms Banister had decided to withdraw following abuse and threats against her and her family, AAP reports.

The candidate had only been in politics for 48 hours at the time of the interview and made a short statement alongside Mr Savage but wasn't allowed to answer any questions on Saturday. She apologised for embarrasment caused to her party and said with the way the television station edited the interview she was "left quite the fool."

Even before the interview, Ms Banister was regarded as a rank outsider to win her seat. The BBC reports the mother-of-two rose to prominence when she was arrested for going into a supermarket and putting stickers saying "halal food funds terrorism" on Nestle products.

She was charged with "contaminating or interfering with goods". Ms Banister would have been forbidden from standing in the 7 September election if she was convicted before polling day.