Racist flyers of a female candidate are circulating. It's far from the first time this has happened.

Last week, racist pamphlets of Liberal candidate Tina Ayyad started circulating around her local electorate, over a week out from the New South Wales election.

Made to look like official campaign material, the pamphlets featured a photo of the mother-of-three, and made a false reference to her Muslim faith. 

"Let's promote Islamisation vote for me," it read. 

Image: Supplied.

The former school teacher said she was 'disgusted' when she saw the pamphlets, which were distributed across Holsworthy, in south-western Sydney.


"The pamphlets are absolutely appalling," Ayyad told Mamamia. 

"My immediate reaction was of disgust at the racism and hatred that these pamphlets represent, it’s something that doesn't belong in our community."

While it's not clear who made the pamphlets, the former Liverpool councillor and deputy mayor said they have been reported to the police and the NSW Electoral Commission. 

Despite the smear campaign, Ayyad said she has received support from community members, which has helped her continue to fight to represent her "vibrant and diverse" community.

"I was really heartened by the response I have received from people across Holsworthy.

"I have had people come up to me offering their support and encouragement, and that has really helped keep me going to keep advocating for our community and fighting for the strong and experienced leadership that we need to steer us through the current economic challenges."

Image: Supplied.


This isn't the first time something like this has happened.

It's not the first time female candidates have been the target of racial smear campaigns in the lead up to state and federal elections.

Back in 2019, Dr Anne Aly, the first Muslim woman elected to federal parliament, became the target of a racial attack during the federal election. 

Just like Ayyad, unauthorised and false pamphlets, which referred to the Western Australia MP by her full given Egyptian name, Azza Mahmoud Fawzi Hosseini Ali el Serougi, were circulated in her local electorate of Cowan.

The pamphlets claimed the Minister for Youth "voted to weaken our borders", "supports banning any criticism of Islam — just like Saudi Arabia" and "stood for the Greens in 2007". 

Image: Matt Jelonek/Getty.


At the time, Labor's WA federal election campaign spokeswoman Madeleine King condemned the "racist" flyers, which were referred to the Australian Electoral Commission. 

"These flyers are most certainly racist, and they need to be condemned in the strongest possible language," King told the ABC. 

"We've seen similar things before where they try to link someone's ethnic identity or family heritage in somehow a negative way to make it reflect poorly on them — as if you shouldn't vote for someone who has a different family heritage to you."

As well as being racist, the flyers were also false, with King telling the publication, the Labor party had "exactly the same position as the government" on border security.

Aly also reportedly never ran for the Greens, having pulled out from running for WA Senate candidate in 2007 before polling day. 


Four years on, Aly said these attacks need to stop. 

"I personally know this is the grim reality for multicultural Australians who put their hand up to run for office – particularly women from minority backgrounds," she told Mamamia.

"This behaviour always has been and always will be unacceptable and needs to stop. It’s everyone’s responsibility to work together to recognise and call out racism, in the community, in workplaces and in politics."

Of course, it's not just those of Muslim faith targeted by these racist attacks. 

Just last year, Kim Rubenstein's campaign posters were defaced overnight with "hurtful" anti-Semitic slurs when she was running for an Independent seat in the ACT senate during the 2022 federal election. 

Rubenstein, a Jewish lawyer, academic and activist, shared a photo of the signs on Facebook, which were plastered with slurs "Shoah Your Support" and "Vote 1 Kosher Kim" alongside gold stars.

"This was hurtful to see," she wrote in the post. 

"For those unaware, 'Shoah' is the Hebrew word for the Holocaust, and Jews were forced to wear yellow stars in Germany under the Nazis."

"I've got a pretty thick skin and was warned this could happen. But I'm writing this as a reminder that we must be vigilant against any behaviour that seeks to vilify people for their religion, race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality."

"We can disagree without harming or belittling each other, and we can have our say without racist, bigoted attacks."


Rubenstein said the move spoke to bigger issues about racism in society and showed a "commitment" to anti-Semitism. 

"The defacing of the sign was not just someone going past with a spray can and on the spot expressing the hatred, through painting a swastika – rather it involved someone going home and preparing a document that needed to be printed out... then driving to the sign and pasting it deliberately to the sign – it involved a commitment to making an antisemitic comment," she told Mamamia.  

After the attacks, other candidates condemned the "appalling" move, including Greens candidate for Canberra, Tim Hollo. 


Rubenstein said police were also contacted but said they "were unable to do anything". 

When asked if she felt women were more vulnerable to racial attacks, Rubenstein pointed out that Hollo, who is also Jewish, wasn't targeted in the same way. 

"I do recall people warning me that I needed to be aware that I could be subjected to both misogynistic and antisemitic responses so it is the intersectional aspect of anti-social behaviour that women are more likely to be subject to – i.e. both sexism and racism."

However, that's not to say men haven't been targeted in similar attacks. 

Last year, Fromer Treasure Josh Frydenberg, who was born in Australia to Jewish parents, had his electoral signs defaced with anti-Semitic imagery. As did Jewish Federal Labor MP Josh Burns and others. 

Speaking to Mamamia at the time, Frydenberg reflected on the act as "an insult to the victims of the Holocaust and every Australian serviceman and woman who fought against tyranny in our armed forces".

"It is concerning that in Australia in 2022, more than 75 years since one of the greatest crimes against humanity, there are still cowardly and criminal acts like defacing public property with swastikas and symbols of mass murder."

Josh Frydenberg and Josh Burns' defaced campaign posters. Image: Twitter/Mamamia. 


As NSW head to polls this weekend and the ACT follow suit with the general election next year, women – of all backgrounds – should feel safe and supported to throw their name in the ring and represent their community. 

As Aly told Mamamia, "It continues to be important that we elect and support candidates that reflect the vibrancy of communities across Australia."

Feature Image: Supplied/Edited by Mamamia. 

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