When Australians Marched Against Sharia
Asked about the burning of an Australian flag, he said: “Whilst it is not a very good look, and might be viewed as un-Australian, it’s not an offence to burn flags.”
Earlier, anti-immigration protesters gathered outside the Exhibition Building, where United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell asked the crowd to consider this question: “Who are we? Are we cowards or conquerors?”.
Rise Up Australia’s Daniel Nalliah also addressed the crowd, saying he was disgusted that some people had a problem with the Australian flag. “It’s your problem. Tough luck,” he said.
The group of about 150 right-wing protesters had marched up Nicholson Street carrying Australian flags and chanting: “Aussie pride, nationwide” and “We are taking our streets back”.
Police had searched them as they arrived, patting them down as they got off a bus in Albert Street. Police also conducted many bag searches of the right-wing protesters after they stepped off the bus, before they gathered in the Parliament Gardens.
In the gardens they chanted slogans such as the ubiquitous “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.” One woman carried a poster emblazoned with the words “Islamic Refugees Not Welcome Here”.
Another woman, when approached by The Age to comment on the rally, said the right-wing protesters were not racist. “We’re not racist, we’re sick of being called racist,” she said.
“Everyone is welcome [in Australia]. But if you come to our country we should not have to change to suit your ways. We are not thugs, we are all normal.”
Down on Spring Street – on the other side of a heavily manned police line – about 200 left-wing protesters rallied to disrupt the anti-immigration march down the road.
They had rallied around cries of “we’ve got to beat back Nazi attacks” and “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land”.
Vashti Kenway, from the Coalition against Racism and Fascism, said: “We want to send a clear message there are individuals and groups, hopefully of a significant amount, who support multiculturalism.”