A clash between an anti-Islamic rally and an anti-racism rally became violent at Federation Square yesterday.
Victoria Police arrived at 11am to try and maintain peace between the groups, but tensions boiled over as anti-racism protesters formed a blockade to prevent entry to the anti-Islamic rally.
The anti-Islamic rally was organised by the Reclaim Australia group, which opposes the Islamisation of Australia through measures such as Sharia Law and a halal tax.
In response, a “Rally Against Racism” was arranged to try and shut down Reclaim Australia’s rallies, which are planned to take place in all Australia’s major cities.
Protestors used placards and loud speakers to get their message across, but both rallies were marred by violence.
A number of fights broke out and an Ambulance Victoria spokesman said 4 people had to be treated by paramedics during the day.
“Rally Against Racism” speaker Alison Thorne, a member of the Freedom Socialist Party, said Reclaim Australia were using racism to “build their right wing movement.”
“They aim to build their fascist movement by whipping up fear using the well-worn tactics of racism and xenophobia,” Thorne said.
She also criticised Tony Abbott, believing he has created a “general climate”, which the Reclaim Australia rally has capitalised on.
“His talk of terrorist threats, death cults and Islamaphobic fear mongering is to distract from a deeply unpopular budget,” she said.
Reclaim Australia’s website states the rallies are “a public response to the shock of recent atrocities of ‘Islam’s radicals’”.
“We are simply patriotic and love our country, our nation and the law that supports our values and our lifestyle,” the website states.
A Reclaim Australia supporter said the rally hoped to achieve “awareness of what is going on”.
“What has occurred is growing Islamisation and we don’t want it here,” the protestor said.
But she denied claims from opposing protestors that the Reclaim Australia protests were racist.
“They do not understand the issues involved, they are ignorant,” she said.
She also said the “Rally Against Racism” protestors were encroaching on her freedom of speech.
“I was manhandled by the police,” she said.
Reclaim Australia organisers have announced plans for further rallies in the future.