Vegemite with "Halaal" label sent to Sam Dastyari
Vegemite with "Halaal" label sent to Sam Dastyari Facebook/senator.sam.dastyari

Labor senator Sam Dastyari is supposedly considering legal action after he was verbally assaulted in the Victoria University student bar on Wednesday by a far-right group. The scene was captured on video and found its way online.

The group approached the senator and began abusing him. For Dastyari, the verbal assault was “the sickening face of white nationalists.”

The attack spiralled. One man can be heard in the clip calling Dastyari a terrorist, suggesting he goes back to Iran. Dastyari is of Iranian heritage.

The group also referenced his political fundraising with Chinese donors. And as Dastyari ordered drinks, one member of the group told him to have another drink and asked if it was “halal certified.”

Dastyari appeared to keep his response low-key. He told the men that he thought they were a bunch of racists and that they were only embarrassing themselves. His fellow Labor MP Tim Watts watched the verbal abuse for minutes then rounded on the group.

On Thursday, Dastyari told the Nine Network that what happens in politics is heading into a “very, very ugly place.” He admitted that it makes him feel small, horrible and “feel kind of terrible and that’s what they are designed to do.”

Dastyari added that racism and islamophobia are getting worse in Australia on both the left and right of politics. “I worry about all the people out there that have to put up with all this kind of abuse who don’t have the structures that someone like I’m lucky enough to have."

'Victim blaming'

Dastyari confessed in a Q&A session at the pub with Watts that he was regularly subjected to similar incidents because he was a Muslim. He believes some people feel empowered because of what One Nation senator Pauline Hanson has done for them.

Hanson also responded to the incident. She reportedly offered no criticism of the group behind the abuse.

Instead, she blamed Dastyari and called him “a little Mr Bean” and “a smartarse,” The Guardian reports. “In my time, did I throw it back to anyone, no I didn’t, I stood my ground for what I believed in and I think he is just using this to get publicity to sell his book, I don’t see anything in this, I really don’t,” she said from Queensland. Queensland’s deputy premier Jackie Trad reacted to Hanson’s comments, labelling it as an act of “victim blaming.”