A City of Mandurah council candidate has shrugged off hateful, xenophobic comments on his Facebook page, saying he will instead be putting all his energy into meeting people and proving he has the answers to the region’s problems.
Ahmed Zilani, a computer engineer from Meadow Springs, decided to run for council to lobby for the long-awaited Lakelands train station and to support the federal government’s proposal to drug test Mandurah job seekers.
But instead of the policies he is standing for, Mr Zilani’s religion has been the focus of Facebook commenters.
One man wrote: “Are you kidding me. If this f**k is a Muslim f**k it off”, with another responding, “Amen to that”.
Another wrote: “Well they will infiltrate the system and then change everything so I suggest you whiteys get up off your a***s now”.
Along with an emoji of a pig’s face, another wrote: “Next thing we’ll be having prayers played 5 times a day throughout Mandurah on a p.a. system”.
Mr Zilani said he also had election yard signs he placed around the city removed over the weekend.
Nonetheless, he said he wasn’t put off by the campaign against him and even though he was a proud Muslim, that had nothing to do with why he was standing for council.
“Everybody has their own religion and everybody has to be respectful of the fact that everybody can practice their own religion in this free country without any fear,” he said.
“Everything is documented in my campaign pamphlet and I’ve put my signature here, so everything is black and white. I’m not bullsh**ting. I’m not that kind of person.
“What I believe, what I want to do, who I am, everything is in there so people know.”
He said he didn’t want to respond to hateful messages on Facebook because he did not want to legitimise their comments.
“If you come and talk to me, then you can tell me your feelings about me,” he said.
“I just want people to come and vote.
“I don’t care who they’re voting for, I want Mandurah people to vote to show they care about the council.”
The US trained computer engineer said he had been an Australian citizen for 15 years and he had been in Mandurah for more than 7 years.
Mr Zilani said he was standing to give elected councillors some competition, because he felt many were elected by default.
“If you don’t have support from the community, you cannot speak,” he said.
“I believe in people power, that’s why I want people to come and vote and if a lot people vote for me I have more strength to talk.
“I have one mouth, two mouths, two legs, but you are my power.”
Voting in City of Mandurah elections closes on October 21.