Muslims brace for racist rallies threatening violence

SHAFAQNA - Muslim leaders have urged their communities to ignore right-wing rallies around the country in coming days, one of which is expected to feature federal Nationals MP George Christensen.

The warning came as former Reclaim Australia member James Gilhome said he had evidence Melbourne and Hobart rallies planned by the extremist group could turn violent.

“I saw talk online of bringing small firearms like .22 Remington pistols and ways to get around the police,” said Mr Gilhome, who left the group because of its “racist beliefs”.

“It could get very messy; there is a huge potential for violence,” he said yesterday.

Mr Christensen said he had accepted an invitation from “local constituents” to speak in Mackay, on the central Queensland coast, tomorrow after examining the group’s “24-point principal document” which he “mainly agrees with”. He said it covered freedom of speech, equality before the law, truth before political correctness, and separation of church and state.

A Reclaim Australia breakaway group calling itself United Patriots Front, which claims solidarity with Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, has promoted the planned Melbourne event as the “biggest patriot rally in Australian history”.

United Patriots member Neil Erikson, who has a criminal conviction for harassing a rabbi, last week uploaded a video in which he narrated over CCTV footage of a neo-Nazi stabbing of a teenager in Madrid in 2007.

“One patriot versus a thousand unwashed filth left-wing scum,” he says in the video, calling the murderer “awesome”, before spruiking tomorrow’s rally.

Victoria Police said it would investigate any social-media activity suggesting the possibility of weapons at the gathering.

The Islamic Council of Victoria strongly condemned the rallies as divisive. “The ICV is urging its constituents not to attend the protest rallies,” the council said, adding that they were scheduled on the most important religious time of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr.

However, Yarra City councillor Stephen Jolly said he was confident about 5000 “anti-racists” would outnumber “hundreds of racists” on the day.

Mr Jolly, who has organised a counter-event in Melbourne, said he “respectfully disagreed” with the council’s position.

“The ICV represent a community under siege,” he said. “They are shying away from anything that looks like conflict … but the people we are talking to on the ground in the mosques, the mums and dads; they are going to turn up … ”

Melbourne comedian and community worker Mohammed Elleissy said he would attend the rally as a security marshall but thought other Muslims should avoid it as they should not have to face the threat of violence.

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