George Christensen accepts invitation to mosque open day
EXCLUSIVE: A controversial politician who once called for a nationwide burqa ban has been named an "honourable chief guest" at the annual open day of Mackay's only mosque.
Dawson MP George Christensen, in a move that surprised the Islamic Society of Mackay, accepted an invitation to be a guest speaker at the Bakers Creek Mosque's open day on Sunday.
A spokesman for Mr Christensen said the LNP backbencher has not yet penned a speech for his 15-minute allotment, although it would centre on "religious liberties".
Mr Christensen has courted controversy on the topic of Islam, supporting a national burqa ban, and was previously accused of 'promoting bigotry' while attending a right wing anti-Islam Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay.
Organised by the Islamic Society of Mackay, the open day invites visitors of all beliefs to the mosque once a year in an effort to "combat misconceptions" and inform Mackay residents about their faith.
The event has previously received positive acclaim from the community.
Imam Ahmed Siddiqui said Mr Christensen had been invited to the event every year, although this was the first time the outspoken MP had accepted their invitation.
"The most important thing about the open day is inviting people to ask questions... because without asking questions we are not really going to solve the issues," he said.
"This is the first time [Mr Christensen] has accepted our formal invite, it is always nice to have people who don't agree with our views to come."
Imam Siddiqui said despite Mr Christensen's conservative opinions, this weekend's open day was not a political event.
"We have been doing this (since about 2007 or 2008); it is not our purpose and when it is not our purpose we do not entertain the idea," he said.
"We don't align with any politics, our aim is never a political gain, our aim is always just in the benefit of the society and the community we live in."
State Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert, who has spoken at the mosque's open day every year since 2015, said the event gets bigger each year.
Mrs Gilbert will speak of the importance of embracing all cultures.
"And to make sure that we develop an understanding of each other and when we are inclusive... we all gain something from each other," she said.
Also lined up to speak at the event are Mayor Greg Williamson, Australian Muslim Women's Association president Silma Ihram and Imam Uzair Akbar from the Holland Park Mosque.
All are welcome to the event at 6A Flinders Ct, Bakers Creek, which starts at 10am on Sunday.
Mr Christensen did not respond for comment.