The ‘Reclaim Australia’ protests on Saturday were held in 16 cities and towns nationwide, attracting hundreds of demonstrators, who said they are against the imposition of Sharia law, and the wave of multiculturalism that has swept the country.
Muslim community leaders expressed fear and bewilderment after protesters gathered in over a dozen Australian cities at the weekend to express their opposition to minority groups, who want to ‘change the cultural identity of the country.’
Randa Kattan, CEO of Arab Council Australia, warned such racist type of events could quickly spiral out of control.
“In terms of numbers they might be insignificant, but in terms of damage, it is significant,” she told the Guardian.
She called the protesters “squeaky wheels grabbing attention,” but was careful not to underestimate such groups for attracting interest to their cause.
“It only takes one incident,” she warned.
However, the anti-Islam protesters met stiff opposition from the left-wing umbrella group ‘No Room for Racism.’ Tensions peaked in central Melbourne, where police struggled to keep anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters separated. Medical officials said four people were treated for minor injuries, while police spokeswoman Belinda Betty said two men and a woman were arrested following the violence.
More than 100 police were deployed, with almost a dozen mounted police also helping to keep the situation under control.