Police on guard as anti-Islamists stage protest
- Sallie Don
- From: The Australian
- July 05, 2010 12:00AM
THE stage appeared set for two opposed cultures to clash in Sydney’s ethnically mixed working-class suburb of Lidcombe yesterday.
But if any outright antagonism had been going to happen between the Australian Protectionist Party and Hizb ut-Tahrir, police were determined not to allow it, keeping the groups at a distance from one another.
The APP met in a small park to express their need to “protect” the Australian way of life.
Around the corner from Australian flag-waving protesters, Muslims from around Sydney and overseas gathered in a local conference hall to discuss the “Struggle For Islam in the West”, with the Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Conflict between the APP and HT amounted to an exchange of words, anti-Islam chants and the occasional drive-by of young Muslim men yelling obscenities from their car at the APP protesters.
One passer-by, a young Muslim man, yelled at the APP group, “You people have absolutely no idea”, sparking a fiery exchange of accusations and finger-pointing.
“Infidels ‘r’ us!” read one APP placard, as members marched past the conference centre.
After regrouping in the park around the corner, the APP contingent mustered for another lap of the town centre and yelled “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Islam must go”and “No sharia law”.
Nick Folkes, the Sydney organiser for the APP, believes that the HT should be banned in Australia and thinks that practising sharia law should be illegal in Australia.
“Sharia law is an archaic legal system that treats woman as second-class citizens,” he said.
“We’re not asking them to change their skin colour or religion. But if they come here, they must reject sharia law.”
Sarah Ismail, a 26-year-old youth worker from the United Muslims of Australia in Lakemba, in Sydney’s west, said she was at the conference to show support for Muslim women to wear the hijab in public.
“I want people to know that we’re not forced to cover; it is completely our choice,” she said.
Ms Ismail said she has noticed growing racism in Australia towards Muslims, and says that people who protest against the Muslim way of life do not truly understand Islam.
“People yell, go back to your own country, even though I was born here,” she said. “All we’re trying to do is live a peaceful life.”