The organisers of a rally against racism are adamant that the community rally — months in the planning — will go ahead peacefully on May 28 outside the library in Moreland.
Councillor Sue Bolton told Green Left Weekly that the organisers are committed to a peaceful and safe rally.
“Our rally will be culturally diverse and children will be present so we want a safe space. We aim to do this by organising marshals who are committed to a peaceful rally.
“We are aware that a far right group — which includes Nazi sympathisers — has decided to protest against our rally. That tells you something about their politics.
“However, we do not plan to engage with the far right. They have no place at a community rally in multicultural Moreland.
“This rally is supported by more than 60 organisations including Moreland Council, faith organisations, trade unions, residents groups and ethnic associations."
The rally is highlighting the following:
• Stop the forced closure of Aboriginal communities — Treaty now;
• Let the refugees in — Close Manus and Nauru; and
• No to Islamophobia.
“We have the right to peacefully protest against racism. What use is a democratic right if we are not allowed to use it?”, asked Bolton.
Over the last 12 months, the far right has targeted refugee rallies, Aboriginal rallies and LGBTI rallies.
“If the organisers had cancelled these rallies because of these threats, we would have lost our democratic right to protest altogether”, she said.
Bolton said the far right is increasingly a problem, it had to be dealt with politically.
“We are even more concerned about the constant efforts of the federal Coalition government to whip up racism, especially with its demonising of refugees and Muslims.
“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and immigration minister Peter Dutton have tried to smear refugees and asylum seekers as 'potential terrorists'.
“This racist atmosphere is leading to hundreds of racist attacks on Muslims and people with brown skin. The majority of these attacks do not get reported to the police and are carried out by random racists who aren't connected to the far right organisations."
The say NO to racism organisers also reject the assertion that, as Moreland is already culturally diverse, there is no need for a rally against racism.
“The reality is that racism does exist in Moreland", Bolton said.
“A number of Muslim women have been attacked on the train on the Upfield Line in multicultural Moreland.
“Shop keepers have been told to remove their halal signs, or have shops smashed up.
“These attacks don't happen every day, but they create an environment in which some Muslim women are too afraid to leave their homes.
“Moreland residents have a right to protest against the federal governement's racist policies towards First Nations people, against refugees and against Muslims,” said Bolton. She encourage all anti-racists to come along and make sure that the rally's message was loud and clear.
Speakers include Andrew Gardiner, Wurundjeri Tribal Council elder; Gary Murray, Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group; Naz Almasi, Iranian refugee; Nasrin, organiser of Islamophobia forum in Coburg; Ralph Edwards, CFMEU state president; Samantha Ratnam, Greens candidate for Wills; and Zane Alcorn, Socialist Alliance candidate for Wills.
The FB event is here.