Elon Musk targets Australian senator Jacqui Lambie, gun laws in deepening dispute over X stabbing footage

Elon Musk said an Australian senator should be jailed and suggested the country's gun laws were meant to stop resistance against its "fascist government", escalating his battle over a court order to remove video posts of a bishop being stabbed.

After Australia's federal court told Musk's platform X to temporarily stop showing video of a knife attack on an Assyrian bishop during a church service in Sydney a week earlier, Musk accused the country's leaders of trying to censor the internet, prompting an outpouring of condemnation from lawmakers.

One senator, Jacqui Lambie, deleted her X account on Tuesday to protest publication of the footage and called for other politicians to do the same, saying Musk had "no social conscience or conscience whatsoever". She added Musk should be jailed.

When an unnamed X user posted overnight that it was Lambie who "should be in jail for censoring free speech on X", Musk replied to his 181 million followers, "Absolutely. She is an enemy of the people of Australia".

A representative for Lambie, an independent senator for the small island state of Tasmania, declined to comment.

Targeting individuals is a regular strategy of Musk, the world's third-wealthiest person, as he goes after governments which try to exert more oversight of content on social media.

In Brazil, Musk has been singling out a judge who told X to block some accounts as part of an investigation into digital militias, calling him a "dictator".

Musk widened his attacks on Australia, including promoting a post from an unnamed but verified X user which said the country "disarmed all of their citizens in 1996 so that they cannot resist their fascist government", a reference to a gun buy-back and registration scheme after the country's worst mass shooting.

Musk responded with an exclamation mark.

Another anonymous, verified X account posted a screenshot of a text message purporting to be from a "friend living in Sydney", saying "Evil has penetrated Australia's government hard". "Whoa!" Musk replied.

Home Affairs Minster Clare O'Neill said social media companies created "civil division, social unrest ... and we're not seeing a skerrick of responsibility taken".

"Instead, we're seeing megalomaniacs like Elon Musk going to court to fight for the right to show alleged terrorist content on his platform," she added.

Police have charged a 16-year-old with a terrorism offence in the attack on Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. Videos online showed the attacker, restrained by the congregation, shouting at the bishop for insulting Islam.

Far right Senator Pauline Hanson supported Musk, saying the takedown order was the centre-left Labor government's "convenient excuse to increase their power to control what truths, ideas, information, and opinions you are able to share".

X and Musk have said they had complied with the temporary takedown order but would appeal it. The footage remained visible on X in Australia on Wednesday.

Another hearing to decide if the takedown order should be permanent was scheduled for later on Wednesday.