Further checks have shown that the NST was not the only local newspaper to mislabel Nick Xenophon as 'anti-Islam'.
A spokesperson from Xenophon’s office in Adelaide confirmed this, saying: “He (Xenophon) is still considering his legal options.”
Previously, the Independent MP accused the NST of defaming him, after the newspaper quoted him as saying that Islam was not a religious, but rather a “criminal organisation”.
The NST added that the senator also voiced his support for same-sex marriages. Both were seemingly taken from a Nov 17, 2009 speech made in Australia’s Parliament.
This did not seem to be the case, after a check with the Australian Hansard. In his speech, Xenophon was actually referring to Scientology.
Nevertheless, this did not stop ex-PKR Bayan Baru MP (Independent) Zahrain Mohamed Hashim attacking Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim through Xenophon (a known associate of Anwar’s).
This angered Xenophon, who was recently here as part of a seven-man international fact-finding mission to investigate Malaysia’s electoral process and observe the Bersih 3.0 protests last Saturday.
He then threatened legal action against the NST, and intended to take the matter to both Australia and Malaysia’s courts.
The NST has since apologised for its mistake, calling it a “grave error” and duly retracted all the statements under its May 2 “Observer under scrutiny” article.
“We accept that in his speech in the Australian Parliament referred to in the article, Mr Xenophon did not use the word ‘Islam’,” the paper said.
It also removed the offending news story from its website with immediate effect.
A further check on local news websites showed that NST was not the only media agency to have labelled the senator as such.
In fact, the accusation against Xenophon appeared to have had its origins in an April 30 Utusan Malaysia article labelled “Senator anti-Islam pantau Bersih 3.0 (Anti-Islam Senator to observe Bersih 3.0)”.
A translated version of Xenophon’s 2009 speech, complete with the word switch from “Scientology” to “Islam” is still available on Utusan’s website (http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/info.asp?y=2012&dt=0501&pub=Utusan_Malaysia&sec=Dalam_Negeri&pg=dn_02.htm).
It added that Xenophon was also a strong supporter of same-sex marriages, and that they should be accepted in Australia.
A May 3 Berita Harian column (http://www.bharian.com.my/bharian/articles/MindaPengarang_KawanAnwaranti-Islam_pro-LGBTwajarbukamatasemuapihak/Article/) also labeled Xenophon as “anti-Islam”, and proceeded to attack Anwar from a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) standpoint.
In its article, the paper said: “The people want to know what Anwar’s stand is, because same-sex relationships cannot be looked at lightly, as it is against Islamic teachings.”
For his alleged part in the Sodomy I and II trials, Anwar has been long accused of being a homosexual, by both the mainstream media and various politicians.