Far-right groups such as the Australian Defense League, Party for Freedom, United Patriots Front, and Rise Up Australia Party are set to rally at a "Shut Down Parramatta Mosque" event in Western Sydney on October 9.
The anti-Islam groups are protesting the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, a town in central Victoria. Police fear that the demonstrations will erupt into violence, as groups supporting tolerance and multiculturalism have planned to counter protest the far-right groups' blatant displays of Islamophobia.
According to The Daily Mail, the Party for Freedom have demanded that the mosque formally "reject terrorism and Sharia Law" as they claim the place of worship has "come under the spell of hateful preachers" who spew "vile" messages of "terrorism and oppression."
Meanwhile, a group known as No to Racism, No to Fascism, No to Islamophobia have organized a counter-protest as a means to show their support for the local Muslim community, who the group believes are victims of an "opportunistic" anti-Muslim scare campaign.
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The wave of anti-Islam protests began after a 15-year-old boy prayed at the mosque just before he shot a police accountant.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Parramatta Mosque leader Neil El-Kadomi said attending the mosque did "not radicalize people," adding, "‘I mean… (if) somebody went into McDonalds, bought a hamburger, and while you’re working goes pop-pop-pop-pop [gun noises], is McDonalds in charge of him, of the act?"
This rally comes just days after members of the United Patriots Front staged a fake beheading outside the City of Greater Bendigo's council chambers. The anti-Islam group chopped off a dummy's head with a knife, shouting "Allahu Ackbar" and "takbir" as they mocked cutting a man's head off. Fake blood spilled from the dummy onto the floor in front of the council chambers. One of the men wore a mock-Arabic head covering.
The group proceeded to parade around Bendigo, waving Australian flags and repeatedly chanting "Aussie."
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In an op-ed written for The Age, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton said: Everyone has the right to protest. But protests should always be peaceful and in a manner which is constructive, not destructive to our community harmony which thrives on inclusivity and shuns discrimination in all its forms."
"Any place of worship – be it a church, a mosque, a temple or a synagogue – is a sacred space for reflection and connection to faith," Ashton continued. "It is very special to those who go there, and should not become a focus for hate, harassment, criminal damage or violence."
Photo credit: The Age/Penny Stephens