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  • (SBS/Olga Klepova)
Rallies and counter-rallies focused on Islam have taken place around Australia during the Easter Break. Carrying posters and Australian flags, Reclaim Australia protestors said they want new migrants to Australia to integrate instead of, in their words: "impose their own rules and traditions". Some posters said that Australian traditions and values shouldn't be challenged by Islam. Opposing them were anti-racism protestors.
By
SBS Olga Klepova

7 Apr 2015 - 4:20 PM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2015 - 5:36 PM

In Melbourne, approximately 3000 protestors clashed in Federation Square with Victoria police intervening to block opposing groups.

Police made 3 arrests and paramedics treated four people for minor injuries.

It was one of 16 rallies around the nation organised by the Reclaim Australia group.

The group were protesting against the implementation of sharia law in Australia, halal certification and Islamisation.

Facing each other the opponents exchanged accusations and kept their rows tight as the tension grew.

Military veteran Scott Driscoll said to SBS he's only opposed to Islam as a faith: "I'm sick and tired of the political correctness in this country. I'm sick and tired of the way that there can't be any mature, open discussion about the bloody elephant that's in the room, which is Islam. Now, I don't have a problem with Muslim people; I've put my life on the line to defend Muslim people. I went to Afghanistan so that little Muslim girls could go to school. But I have a problem with a doctrine that says if I don't subscribe to their way of life, they'll hack my head off."

 

 

A protester called Jacob said to SBS that Australia is not a place for racism: "I've got children and it really worries me that they are growing up in the society where not only casual racism but blatant racism is being pushed by our government leaders as an acceptable thing."

An anti reclaim Australia activist also explained to SBS: "I don't agree with racism. Discrimination on the basis of.... I don't even believe in race. I think that's an out-dated disproven concept. I don't believe in discriminating against people from different cultural background. Look around you - there are people that are protesting. You know saying things like you'll keep your burqa and I'll keep my clitoris. Like you can't have one without the other."

Over 100 police were present to restrain clashes from breaking out.

Police built a live wall of force, practically barricading in one group.

Socialist Party representative David Elliott says its important ordinary citizens don't believe Reclaim Australia's rhetoric.

 "We're basically here because a small core group of hardcore Neo-Nazis is trying to lie to ordinary people by telling them that immigrants and Muslims are the cause of all their problems, when in fact we know that the cause of all our problems is basically a government that does whatever big business wants".

Reclaim Australia reject the neo-Nazi tag.

Speaking to the BBC, spokesman John Oliver disassociated their protest from the racial ideology.

 “We have had some people try to hijack our event. We have had websites in the US promoting our rallies that give people the idea that we're connected to these people, but we're just ordinary families”.

 

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