A series of anti-Islam rallies were held across Australia Saturday, headed by a group called Reclaim Australia.
The largest protest drew 500-800 people in capital Sydney as the rallies claiming to be against “sharia law, halal tax and Islamization,” failed to attract much support.
There were clashes in some places as groups met counter-protests in major cities by a group called No Room for Racism.
In Melbourne, police had to intervene when two groups tried to hold rallies in city’s Federation Square at the same time. Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper reported that at least a hundred policemen had to be deployed to prevent clashes.
Reclaim Australia protestors made claims such as “300 million extremist muslims who are dedicated to the takeover and downfall of western civilization” and “Muslims have an average of five to eight children per family” so that they are posing a danger to their way of life. However, they claim not to be racist.
Anti-racism protesters from No Room for Racism group accuse Reclaim Australia for spreading conspiracy theories, with a protester from anti-racism group Tony Iltis saying “There is no possibility of sharia law in Australia, that is absolutely ridiculous,” referring to the other group’s claim.
Mel Gregson, one of the organizers of the anti-racism group, said “it is dangerous to allow hate speech to occur on the streets of Melbourne,” speaking about the other group’s rally.