Seven protesters were arrested when anti-Islam and anti-racist groups clashed in Melbourne.

A policeman deploys capsicum spray towards a protester during clashes in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, Australia.
A policeman deploys capsicum spray towards a protester during clashes in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, Australia.

Seven protesters were arrested on Saturday as violent clashes broke out between anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters on the streets of Melbourne, Australia.

The anti-racist Moreland's Council held a planned march under the banner of "Moreland says NO to racism" whilst the anti-Islamic United Patriots Front (UPF) organised a "Stop the Far Left" march.

TV footage show protesters with bandanas covering their faces and using flagpoles to hit each other.

Riot police were called in and used pepper spray to disperse the 500 protesters who constantly broke police lines.

A policeman deploys capsicum spray towards a protester during clashes in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, Australia.
A policeman deploys capsicum spray towards a protester during clashes in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, Australia.

Victorian State Police Commander condemned the actions as "cowardly."

Victorian state Police Commander Sharon Cowden told Sky, "I understand the need and the right to protest ... but what we can't have is this violence in our community."

And added, "We saw inappropriate and often cowardly behaviour, people wearing masks."

Five people were arrested for riotous behaviour and two others were arrested for carrying knives and other weapons.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that eliminating racism was still a "work in progress."

"But I have to say we are the most successful multicultural society in the world," Turnbull told reporters. "There is more work to do. This is not something to be complacent about. This is a work in progress."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies