Australia Day ad showing girls in hijabs removed after threats

A photo of the billboard has been shared widely online Image copyright Facebook
Image caption A photo of the billboard has been shared widely online

An Australia Day advert featuring two girls in hijabs in front of an Australian flag has been removed from a Melbourne street after threats were made to the billboard company.

The Victoria state government said the company, QMS, received a series of "abusive and threatening" complaints.

A spokesman for QMS would not detail the nature of the threats to the BBC.

The digital advert, promoting a series of government-backed events, had been the subject of online debate.

Victoria's Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott said it was disappointing to see "a small minority attacking proud Australians".

"Anyone who considers this a victory needs a refresher on the true meaning of Australia Day," he said in a statement.

"It is about bringing people together and celebrating the diversity which makes this state and this country great."

Australia Day is a public holiday celebrated on 26 January, marking the day Britain's First Fleet arrived in 1788.

Photo shared online

The scrolling advert featured about five other images, a government spokeswoman said. The Guardian reported the images featured people of various cultural backgrounds.

It has been the subject of online discussion since Friday when a photo of the billboard was widely shared among far-right groups on Facebook.

People commenting on the posts claimed the image was not a true reflection of Australia Day, with some labelling it "propaganda".

But others defended the advert, saying Australia was a proud multicultural nation.

Richard Di Natale, leader of the left-wing Australian Greens, tweeted he was "disgusted by campaign to take down Australia Day sign featuring Muslim women".

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