An Australian politician has condemned “opportunistic” calls for a ban on Muslim immigration following the murder of a British woman at a hostel.
Queensland’s policing minister Bill Byrne called for calm after Smail Ayad allegedly stabbed Mia Ayliffe-Chung to death at the Shelley’s Backpacker hostel in the small town of Home Hill on Tuesday evening.
Local police confirmed he screamed “Allahu Akbar” - or “God is greatest” - when he was arrested.
He has been charged with one count of murder, two of attempted murder and 12 counts of serious assault following the incident.
A British man, Tom Jackson, is in a critical condition in hospital with wounds to the head, chest and stomach after trying to save Ms Ayliffe-Chung.
Another British backpacker, Chris Porter, is being treated for wounds to the ankles and an Australian worker at the hostel, Grant Schulz, has been discharged after being stabbed in the leg.
Queensland police have ruled out extremism as a motive for the murder.
Despite this, far-right senator Pauline Hanson used the murder to reissue her call for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to Australia.
She said: “I’m not going to be silenced on yet another attack involving Islamic extremism – especially one occurring in the state I am representing in the Senate”.
But Mr Byrne said the accusations of extremism from “predictable sources” was unhelpful.
He told the Australian Associated Press: “There’ll be those that seek to exploit this incident. “What is required here is cool, calm and thoughtful consideration.
“It’s really opportunistic, in some ways, to make commentary on this set of circumstances”.
Queensland MP George Christensen was defiant, saying the “political correctness brigade” was trying to silence him.
He wrote on Facebook: “Sure, the killer's motivations may have been irreligious (some suggest unrequited love) but I have to say I've never heard of a Christian trying to sanctify a murder they've committed by yelling out 'Gloria in excelsis Deo!' or a Buddhist doing the same thing and yelling out 'Buddhabhivadana!'.
“What I do know is that one Islamist prone to violent extremism let into our country is one too many.
“Whatever we can do to tighten up our screening processes to weed out such violent extremists the better.”
Ayad has been held in custody and will appear at the Townsville Magistrates Court on Friday.
He reportedly had become “obsessed” with the 21-year-old waitress after she arrived at the hostel last week to work as a fruit picker.
Witnesses said he had told other backpackers he planned to marry her in the days before the attack.
On Tuesday night he reportedly became enraged when he discovered she did not reciprocate his feelings.
Additional reporting by AP
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