Muslims praying
A Muslim pilgrim prays on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual haj pilgrimage, outside the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia September 11, 2016. Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton showed his support towards the controversial Australian Day billboard that featured two Muslim girls wearing hijabs. In an interview, Dutton emphasised one should not feel offended if they see someone wearing a hijab.

“I think it’s great that we’ve got young boys, young girls from whatever background who are embracing Australian values, flying the Australian flag, proud to be Australian, proud to be part of our society, want to be part of a peaceful future in this country,” Dutton said in an interview with 3AW. “They’re all the values that all of us embrace.”

Earlier this week, Victorian Multicultural Affairs Minister Robin Scott said the billboard was going to be taken down because the company behind the advertisement, QMS, was receiving “abusive and threatening” complaints. In the wake of this announcement, advertising guru Dee Madigan established a campaign calling for the billboard to be brought back. Her page on the crowd-funding website GoFundMe has received more than $140,000 as of time of writing.

Madigan also received a donation of $1,500 by Tiyce Lawyers. She plans to work to get the advertisement featured in newspapers and street posters as well.

Speaking with News Corp, Madigan said “it just does not make sense” why people are against it. “People are just really against this, it just does not make sense. It is just a really nice photo of two young, pretty Australian girls celebrating Australia Day,” she said. “The response has been fantastic. We are already in talks with media buyers and hopefully we will have billboards in every capital city for Australia Day.”

She added she was not surprised that the billboard received criticism and was therefore taken down. “I am not surprised people complained about it, but this was particularly stupid. They complain Muslims don’t assimilate, then they complain about a photo and a billboard like this,” she said. “It highlights the fact it is just plain racism. And it shows that Muslims are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. We just want to see these two Australian girls put back up on a billboard about Australia Day.”

The advertisement featuring the two young Muslim girls was clicked in the Docklands area at an Australia Day event last year.