The image of two Muslim Australian girls celebrating Australia Day is set to return and then go national.
A billboard advert for a government Australia Day event featuring the image of the hijab wearing young girls was removed from its Melbourne location earlier this week after the company responsible for it, QMS, was threatened.
In response, an online GoFundMe crowd campaign was launched for the sign’s return. The fundraising gathered over $100,000 within the first 12 hours, surpassing the stated goal of $50,000.
Now the sign is expected to be displayed again at the same spot within days, with more set to be put up in other Australian cities and maybe even be published as adverts newspapers.
Holy shit we did it. Australians are decent and tolerant and generous! pic.twitter.com/ZG7itobj5P
— Dee Madigan (@deemadigan) January 18, 2017
“I’m overwhelmed and just incredibly heartened I guess because it feels like sometimes the bastards are winning,” fundraising organiser Dee Madigan said, according to the ABC.
“Then when this happens you just think, ‘No they’re not, there’s a whole lot of really good people out there’.
“They put pressure on to take one down, we’ll put 20 back up.”
“The people who complain about Muslim Australians not assimilating were the ones who complained about two Muslim girls holding an Australian flag celebrating Australia Day,” she added.
However, the image has attracted further controversy from the other end of the political spectrum, with some critics citing the plight of Indigenous Australians and the fact that for many of them Australia Day on 26 January is a day of dispossession.
Anti-Islamophobia advocate Mariam Veiszadeh, who supported the campaign to return the sign, sought to acknowledge the other side of the debate, posting on Facebook that she had “not in any way, intended to ignore or ‘whitewash Australia’s dark past’ and the injustices committed against the first Australians.”
Immigration minister Peter Dutton told 3AW radio that he loved the image.
“I think it’s great that we’ve got young boys, young girls from whatever background who are embracing Australian values, flying the Australian flag, proud to be Australian, proud to be part of our society, want to be part of a peaceful future in this country,” he said.