Senior figures in Melbourne's Islamic community are moving to allay fears of sectarian violence, after a Syrian man said he was threatened at gunpoint in his shop. 
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13 Nov 2012 - 7:03 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 10:48 AM

Senior figures in Melbourne's Islamic community are moving to allay fears of sectarian violence emanating from Syria's civil war.

The push comes after a shop-keeper in the city's north says he was threatened at gunpoint in his shop and called an 'Alawite dog'.

The cafe owner claims he was serving an elderly customer when a group of men hiding beneath balaclavas and hoodies walked in and threatened him in Arabic.

He says he fled across a busy road and jumped over nearby fences to escape, after the men allegedly produced weapons.

Victoria Police have confirmed one man has been charged in relation to the incident and say an investigation continues.

"We will continue to meet with members of Syrian community as they in turn work within their own communities to discourage any anti-social or criminal behaviour occurring here in reaction to the conflict," Victoria Police said in a statement.

The Australian-born man identifies himself as an Alawite, but refused to be drawn on whether Sunnis were to blame over the incident.

The Alawites are a prominent mystical religious group centred in Syria who follows a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam.

Baha Yehia from the Islamic Society of Victoria says steps are being taken to prevent violence and intimidation arising from the Syrian war.

Earlier this year an Alawite prayer-room was gutted by fire and a nearby cultural centre was fire-bombed.