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Sydney // Protesters waving Australian flags and carrying signs such as “Yes Australia. No Sharia” rallied around the country on Saturday in events organisers said were against Islamic extremism.
The Reclaim Australia events drew hundreds of supporters but also triggered counter-rallies from other groups who criticised them as racist and called for greater tolerance.
“We are pro-Australian values and anti-extreme Islam, but we’re not anti-Muslim,” said Reclaim Australia spokeswoman Catherine Brennan.
She said the rallies had attracted people from diverse backgrounds, and denied they were racist.
“Since when is it being racist to love your country and to love the values and culture that you’ve been brought up with?”
Reclaim Australia’s website said the rallies were against Sharia and the burqa and in support of gender equality.
However, rival protesters called the rallies anti-Muslim.
“Events like theirs incite racism and violence against Muslims,” said Clare Fester, who organised a counter-protest in Sydney.
“Their attacks on Islam imply that anyone who is a Muslim is violent, supports terrorism and is anti-woman. This in an attempt to target all Muslims with classic racist stereotypes.”
Reclaim Australia’s John Oliver told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the group was “not against any particular race or any particular religion”.
“We’re against the extremists of one particular religion,” he said.
“I know in Sydney and Melbourne they’ve got Muslims already signed on to attend because they can see what’s happening and they don’t like what’s happening.”
In Sydney, hundreds braved the rain to rally in Martin Place, near the site of a deadly siege in which a gunman inspired by the extremist group ISIL took customers and staff hostage in a cafe in December. Two people, and the gunman, were killed in that incident.
“We have an extreme ideology called Islam which is starting to gain a foothold in our societies,” one speaker told the event, at which one person held a home-made sign reading “No Islam. No Sharia. No Halal”.
In Melbourne, tensions between competing protesters led to scuffles, with mounted police forced to form a barrier between the groups, and paramedics treating several people for injuries.
Police arrested three people in Melbourne, while a man in Hobart was arrested for assault and two women were removed for breaching the peace at the Sydney rally.
* Agence France-Presse
ISLAM TAKING OVER EUROPE ! Wake up before it’s too late !
Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in Europe.
Muslim population in England (2011)
20% and more
Since the 1960s, immigrants from Muslim countries started to appear in numbers in Western Europe, especially in Germany, France and Belgium. Although large Muslim communities existed on the continent long before this, especially in the Balkans, this was the first major wave of immigration of Muslims to northwestern Europe.
Muslims in Europe are not a homogeneous group. They are of various national, ethnic and racial identities. The top countries of origin of Muslims in Western Europe are Pakistan, Turkey and the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). Muslims also vary in terms of their religious commitment: some adhere very strictly to the tenets of Islam while others have largely assimilated into secular European culture.
In Western Europe, Muslims generally live in major urban areas, often concentrated in poor neighborhoods of large cities.
Islamophobia (or anti-Muslim sentiment) is a term for prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim. The term entered into common English usage in 1997 with the publication of a report by the Runnymede Trust condemning negative emotions such as fear, hatred, and dread directed at Muslims. While the term is now widely used, both the term itself and the underlying concept have been criticized.
Islam in Europe
Islam in Austria
Islam in Belgium
Islam in Denmark
Islam in France
Islam in Germany
Islam in Italy
Islam in the Netherlands
Islam in Spain
Islam in Sweden
Islam in the United Kingdom