I am so impressed by 9yo schoolgirl #HarperNielsen, for her peaceful protest in support of #Indigenous Australians and #equality. She is thoughtful, intelligent and articulate. Of course, some on the far-right are attacking her. #ISitWithHarper #justice #education #auspol pic.twitter.com/OYOgVrHydw— Peter Murphy (@PeterWMurphy1) September 13, 2018
A nine-year-old girl in Australia refused to stand up for the national anthem as she believes it disregards the country’s indigenous people.
Harper Nielsen lives in the Australian state of Queensland. She stirred a controversy when she chose to sit during a rendition of the song “Advance Australia Fair” at Kenmore South State School in Brisbane.
The song contains a verse that says, “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free.”
The nine-year-old later explained to Nine News the reason behind her action, “(But) when it says Advance Australia Fair, it means advance the white people. And when it says ‘we are young’ it completely disregards the indigenous Australians who were here before us for 50,000 years.”
She also said that “it was time to raise awareness.”
The school handed Harper detention for what it called was “blatant disrespect.” However, her parents supported their daughter’s decision and said they were “proud” of her “incredible bravery.”
Her protest has outraged many in the country.
Prominent politicians have attacked Nielsen and have asked the school to kick her out.
Australian Sen. Pauline Hanson posted a video in which she criticized Harper.
“Here we have a kid that has been brainwashed and I tell you what, I would give her a kick up the backside. We're talking about a child who has no idea. This is divisive. I'm proud of the national anthem. It's about who we are as a nation,” she said.
Queensland Liberal National politician Jarrod Bleijie, the state's shadow minister for Education, shared similar thoughts.
“Shame on her parents for using her as a political pawn. Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem. Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat,” he said in a tweet.
Despite the backlash, some supported her act.
Australian journalist and television host Georgie Gardner appreciated the girl’s effort.
“I do applaud her for considering the words of the national anthem, a lot of people just rattle it off and don't consider the meaning,” he said.
The news went viral instantly and soon #HarperNielsen followed where people praised the schoolgirl and called her “Australia's most fantastic and brilliant brat.”
Australia has been under heightened scrutiny over its treatment of the country’s indigenous communities in recent years. They represent 2 percent of the population.
Harper’s protest is similar to the one initiated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest the rampant racial discrimination and police brutality in the United States.
The peaceful yet impactful protest soon ballooned into a massive social movement as many followed in his footsteps to send out a powerful message to the authorities.
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