Police use capsicum spray at Reclaim Australia rally, protesters disperse


Protesters disperse from the Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne after the police used capsicum spray to control the crowd.

Protesters disperse after clashing with police at the Reclaim Australia and counter rallies in Melbourne's CBD on Saturday. 

The police used capsicum spray to control the crowd.

Three rallies marked the day starting with the counter rallies at 10.00am, then the Reclaim Australia protest, and the United Patriots Front (UPF) around midday. The UPF describes itself as a "nation wide movement, opposing the spread of Left wing treason and spread of Islamism" on its Facebook page, has arrived at rallies that have been taking place on Saturday morning in Melbourne.

Reclaim Australia rallies planned for around Australia this weekend, aligning with the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, are anticipated to attract thousands, both supporters and those intent on disrupting the events.

There were counter-protests and ugly confrontations in April when Reclaim Australia last urged its supporters to take to the streets.

Federal coalition MP George Christensen will speak at one of the rallies, in Mackay, after saying "hell will freeze over" before he would bow to calls to pull out.

Labor wants Prime Minister Tony Abbott to intervene to stop the Nationals MP from appearing.

"The prime minister was willing to stop people from appearing on a television show on the ABC," opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke told reporters on Friday.

"We now need to find out whether he's willing to stop one of his colleagues from attending an extremist rally that's about dividing Australia."

The rallies coincide with the Muslim celebration marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is also due to appear at the Mackay rally on Sunday.

Rallies will also be held in Melbourne and Adelaide on Saturday and in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and other regional centres on Sunday.

Reclaim Australia advocates the closure of mosques and Islamic schools and the ending of halal food certification in a bid to end radicalisation.

Slogans suggested for signs on the group's website include "Stop Islamic Terrorism", "Reclaim Democracy" and "Our Women Are Equal".

Concerns about violence prompted one anti-Islam group to issue a warning to its members about the rallies.

"We trust the organisers of these rallies to be well-meaning, but they have only limited control over such public gatherings," the Q Society said in an email to its membership.

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