The controversy surrounding the two young hijab-clad girls that appeared in an out of home campaign to promote Australia Day last week took a sinister turn after it was revealed the Canberra Theatre Centre that showed the ad had been attacked online and included calls to “bomb” it.
The image has been cause of ongoing debate over the past 10 days since an iteration of it first appeared beside a Melbourne freeway 10 days ago.
Following threats against the billboard operator, QMS, the ad was removed until a campaign by media identity Dee Madigan had it reinstalled just in time for Australia’s national day last Thursday.
The campaign ran on digital boards outside the Canberra Theatre Centre and photos of it were posted by the nationalist, anti-Islamic group Respect Australia.
Comments to the group’s Facebook page included members calling for the theatre to be set on fire, bombed and the screen destroyed with bricks. Others called for “people … to go there and destroy it” and “torch da (sic) dump”.
In a video uploaded to the Facebook page, an organiser of Respect Australia can be seen with supporters out of the front of the theatre, accusing it of being “un-Australian”.
“This isn’t a racial thing, it isn’t any religious discrimination or anything, this is an Australian cultural thing,” the man says in the video.
It has been reported in local media that the the theatre had to lock down its social media pages after it was inundated with threatening and aggressive messages.