Police have made arrests at a rally against the so-called "Islamization of Australia" in Sydney Sunday, following clashes at a similar rally held in Melbourne on Saturday.
About 250 people took part in the "Reclaim Australia" rally in Sydney on Sunday, Australian network Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) reported. Reclaim Austalia bills itself as a patriotic group, oppposed to Islamization, asylum seekers coming to the country, and groups like the Islamic State. Anti-racism protesters have dogged their gatherings, since they began earlier this year, accusing them of Islamophobia and racial bigotry.
While the Sydney Morning Herald reported that police made five arrests, and opposing protesters were seen chasing each other through the streets, the rally did not see a repeat of the ugly scenes at a Melbourne event the previous day. There, demonstrators clashed with counter-protesters and police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, RT reported. During that event, 3,000 anti-racism demonstrators were present while Sunday's march in Sydney had a much more representative showing from the Reclaim Australia group. This month's events followed demonstrations in April that also resulted in injuries and attracted counter-protests.
Police in Sydney kept the opposing groups separated, with officers on foot and on horseback lining the streets. The counter-protesters, who have been accused by opponents of being sympathetic to ISIS, also raised concerns about government practices. "ISIS hasn't closed any remote communities, or removed kids from their families," SBS News reported an anti-racism leader yelling during Sunday's march.
The Sydney event was met by a smaller group of counter-protesters, who organized around the hashtag #NoRoomForRacism. Police arrested five people at the rally in Sydney, SBS News reported, with one man charged for offensive behavior, a woman accused of assaulting police and another man for breaching the peace. Some of those protesters had their faces covered with masks.
“I don’t want to see this violence,” Pauline Hanson, a member of Reclaim Australia who marched in Melbourne, told the Today Show network in Australia. “It is about being an Australian, being proud of who you are and to maintain our culture, way of life and laws."
Some members of Reclaim Australia are motivated by the fear of militant groups such as ISIS, recruiting young Australians to leave and fight in Iraq and Syria.