Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson tells crowd “Criticism is not racism”, as nationwide protests and counter-protests trigger scuffles and police intervention.
by Michael Safi, The Guardian
Hundreds of anti-Islam protesters have clashed with counter-demonstrators at rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and other sites across the country.
Mounted police were forced to separate the two sides in Melbourne as tensions soared and scuffles broke out across Federation Square, with paramedics called to treat several injured people.
The group Reclaim Australia is holding nationwide rallies against “sharia law, halal tax and Islamisation”. Around 200 marched on the square, a handful bearing swastika tattoos, others in T-shirts reading, “If you don’t love it, leave”.
They were met by several hundreds protestors carrying signs that read, “No room for racism”, and promoting a variety of other causes.
Dozens of police stood several rows deep to separate the angry crowd but arguments and shoving broke out across the square.
In Sydney, on either end of Martin Place and separated by a wall of police, anti-racist and anti-Islam protesters faced off near the scene of last year’s Lindt cafe siege.
On the lower end were vocal supporters of Reclaim Australia.
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