FIRST ON 7: An alleged food contamination scare involving one of Australia’s favourite foods has exposed a One Nation candidate’s anti-Muslim campaign.
A jar of Nestle coffee was found with its seal broken and a sticker saying “Beware! Halal food funds terrorists” in aisle four of Woolworths supermarket at Underwood, south of Brisbane, earlier this month.
Two tins of Milo, also produced by Nestle, were found with the same stickers but the seals were not broken.
The supermarket immediately alerted Queensland Health and police which launched a joint investigation.
Scientific tests by Queensland Health found that while the seal was broken there was nothing to indicate it had been deliberately damaged.
The tests also found the coffee had not been contaminated.
The police investigation culminated in the arrest of a 27-year-old Kingston woman who will front the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Friday charged with one count of product contamination.
A basic internet search of the stickers found on the Nestle products shows it can be purchased from Restore Australia whose CEO is Mike Holt, the One Nation Party’s candidate for the federal seat of Fairfax.
Mr Holt, who co-founded the organisation and is based on the Sunshine Coast, said on the website Restore Australia was a non-political organisation wanting to restore power to the people.
While Mr Holt defended his website today to 7News, the head of Queensland’s Muslim community said he was left “speechless” and condemned the website.
Islamic Council of Queensland president Mohammed Yusuf called on One Nation to disendorse Mr Holt as a candidate.
Mr Yusuf said claims that sales from Halal food funded terrorism were baseless.
Within hours of Queensland police arresting a woman, Restore Australia posted an appeal on Facebook asking for the name of lawyers who might help her for free.
“Nestle has decided to fight back against our anti-halal sticker campaign by having a 19-year-old girl in Brisbane arrested for ‘product tampering’. Alleging that she put an anti-Halal sticker on one of their jars of coffee and then opened it,” Restore Australia said.
“Nestle has just… shot themselves in the foot. Instead of doing the right thing and stop selling us out to Islam, they have decided to pick on a young woman and take her to court.”
The Facebook page also said the woman had allegedly denied putting the sticker on the jar
Halal signifies food has been prepared in accordance with Islamic Law. Thousands of products sold in Australia are certified.
The supermarket the woman targeted is in an area with a large Muslim population.
While the organisation claims it welcomes immigrants including Muslims, it also sells ‘Ban Islam’ stickers and contained inciteful comments such as “every time you buy Halal food you are helping buy a bullet that may kill one of our troops”.
“We have welcomed all comers, including the latest surge of immigrants from Islamic countries. However, many Australians are beginning to regret accepting the Islamic influx. The Muslim people in general are friendly and willing to integrate. Unfortunately, a small section of Islamic hard line radicals are spoiling that image for the majority,” the website states.
“The biggest problem for many Aussies is the growing number of products that now carry the Halal logo, or that are certified Halal. Products that are not even processed or eaten now carry the Halal certification. And we are asking why?,” according to the site.
His candidate’s Facebook page, which is linked to the One Nation Party website as well as Restore Australia, has a post claiming One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson will launch his election campaign on August 5.
The Restore Australia website states the money raised from the sale of the stickers – three sheets for $10.94 from within Australia and $17.44 for international orders – will help cover the costs of his election campaign.
Mr Holt said fighting Halal certification will help him get into Parliament and table a bill to amend laws given Australian power to start referendums as opposed to politicians.
“The Australian people should be able to vote in a referendum on whether we want to pay a Halal tax or not,” according to the website.
“Plaster the anti-Halal stickers everywhere and help educate Aussies about the creeping attack on our food supply. Get the word out on the street. Stick these striking stickers on shop windows, shop shelves, bus stops, on community noticeboards, in shops, outside shops, on buses… anywhere people will see them. Let’s get people thinking. Aussies need to be aware of the creeping Islamization of our nation… and Halal certification is just one of the weapons they are using against us,” according to the Restore Australia.
However at the bottom of the webpage where you can purchase stickers, there is the following disclaimer:
“Please place these stickers responsibly. Do not place them on food as that could be considered depriving the shop of a sale and you could be charged with theft. Do not tamper with food items. Penalties may apply.”
The crime occurred during Ramadan – the holiest month of the Islamic calendar.
Mr Yusuf said the Islamic Council of Queensland will look at Mr Holt’s website and Facebook to see what action they will take.
“We are speechless, what do we say about this. There is so much misconception about Halal… it is a simple question of us meeting our religious rights, just like the Jewish community,” he told 7News.
“We are doing our best to make people understand this process… however people are trying to get political mileage out of this and are trying to inflame the issue at election time,” he said.
“(I) absolutely condemn it in the sense it is highly inappropriate to make these sort of statements when they are not true… the money raised from Halal is funding terrorism is a totally baseless statement,” Mr Yusuf said.
Mr Holt told 7News that he stood by his website and that Muslims were ‘forcing a Halal tax on us’ through certification and the funds raised money for terrorism overseas.
He said he had ‘probably sold’ more than a thousand sheets of sticks in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and Switzerland.
“I’m married to a Thai (woman), how could I be a racist?” he said.
In response to Mr Yusuf’s comments, Mr Holt said, “I hope he stays speechless. He hasn’t got a leg to stand on. We are not fighting against the people. We do not want Islam in Australia”.
Nestle and Woolworths did not comment at the time of publication.