23 year old YouTube star Lauren Southern says the Australian government is putting up an “unprecedented” number of hurdles to prevent her entering the country due to her outspoken criticism of radical Islam.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says Ms Southern should be given a visa and it appears obstacles are being put in the way by those who don't think she should visit.
The Daily Telegraph reports, the Canadian was scheduled to appear in a series of events around the country later this month but hours before she was due to fly out, her Electronic Travel Authority was declined.
Ms Southern said she applied for a work visa four months ago but “we keep waiting and waiting and waiting and they keep sending us new hurdles to jump through”.
“We’ve been told [by our immigration lawyers] that it’s unprecedented. But I’m not surprised they are dragging out the process. There are so many people that are offended by debate and free speech that sometimes governments cower, it’s just way easier to play into the hands of people who are totalitarian,” she said.
Ms Southern said it set a “very scary precedent for free speech” in “nations based on liberal values and the idea of free inquiry. I actually think a lot of it right now is Islamic communities,” she said.
“I have criticised radical Islam, I have criticised the increasing blasphemy laws that are being brought into our societies. You won’t see Christians violently attacking people for criticising their religion like you do with Islam, things like the Charlie Hebdo attack.”
Senator Bernardi has told Andrew Bolt on Sky News he thinks her speaking tour would raise the ire of Australia’s left wing activists but that’s no reason to stop her coming here.
Update: After the Conservative Party and other supporters of free speech voiced concern about Lauren Southern's visa problem, it has just been announced that the 23 year old Canadian has been granted a business visa to visit Australia.
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