A surge of anti-Islam sentiment swept across Australia on Sunday as protesters waving placards displaying slogans screaming "Say No to Sharia Law" and "Halal is Extortion" attended rallies nationwide organized by far-right wing group Reclaim Australia and splinter group.
Hundreds of anti and pro-Islam demonstrators faced off at marches in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane as part of Reclaim Australia’s national day of activism against what they call the “Islamization of Australia”.
The Anti-Islam group protested against construction of a planned mosque in the area and the setting up of an Islamic school at Victoria University campus.
According to witnesses, sporadic fighting broke out between the two groups and punches were thrown among protesters. Police used pepper spray to subdue the crowd before making the arrests.
Sporadic fighting broke out between the two groups and punches were thrown among protesters. Police used pepper spray to subdue the crowd before making the arrests, but only 10 arrests in total.
All the arrests were in Melton, a suburb of Melbourne, where the proposed construction of a mosque became the latest catalyst for anti-Islam and anti-racism supporters.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal overruled the council’s decision to deny the Melbourne Islamic Centre a permit for a mosque in Harkness Rd in Melton West after a tribunal hearing earlier this year.
Reclaim Australia members also argue that they are concerned that the Al Iman Islamic School will move to Victoria University’s Melton campus next year at the expense of the Melton Specialist School.
Melton has become the latest hotspot for anti-Islam rallies, where approval for the construction of a proposed mosque has sparked violence, massive protests and led to the town becoming a flashpoint for ugly confrontations between anti- and pro-Islam groups.
Around 1,000 demonstrators supporting anti-Islam organization Reclaim Australia and counter group No Room for Racism descended on the site of the proposed mosque in Melton, separated by a heavy police presence.
A number of the Reclaim Australia members covered their faces with Australian flags to hide their identity.
Chanting opposing anthems, "Muslims are welcome, racists aren't" and “Integrate or immigrate”, the rival groups became embroiled in several heated verbal exchanges and physical scuffles.
Anti-racism protest co-organiser Councillor Stephen Jolly warned that people needed to stand up to the "white terrorism".
"They are aiming to physically intimidate their political opponents," he said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he supported people's right to protest, but not the spreading of hate.
"The only form of legitimate protest is peaceful protest," he said.
Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula tweeted that protesters of Reclaim Australia were "cowards, mugs and bigots".
Reclaim Australia activist Philip Galea was jailed after he was found to be in possession of five Tasers, precursor chemicals and bomb-making manuals, two days before of the protest. Police executed warrants on Galea’s home ahead of today’s rallies.
Other protests around the country were smaller and relatively trouble free. It’s being suggested that the numbers at all the demonstrations were less than was being predicted because police had urged people to stay home.. Tags: #Anti-Islam #Islamophobia #Racism #Australia #
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