Sunday, 5 April 2015

Caves of unredeemed nastiness and bitterness engendering disrespect of others

The material posted below concerning yesterday's rallies is posted for information and for the record. However, the Social Media Project Officer, a Christian, cannot resist a comment. 

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is, in many Christian traditions, a sobering and quiet day. It is a day for remembering Jesus lying in the borrowed tomb after his death on Friday and before his rising to life on Sunday. 

This year, the Christian holy days overlapped with the conclusion of the Jewish Passover which marks the remembrance of the escape of the Jews from tyrannical power, a tyrannical nation. This leaves a question. Who were the noisy anti-Islamic people who were the initiators of all this noise in the public squares of Australian cities yesterday? 

I think it might be possible to rule out the participation of Muslims. Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath - so I think Jews could be ruled out. Some of the participants would have called themselves Christian. I would challenge these people. I would say that they are Christian in name only - and not in spirit. 

The true spirit of the day would not have seen public outcry and uproar. It would not have seen expressed hatred to another Abrahamic faith - because, in the Abrahamic tradition, we are taught to love and respect others as ourselves. The true spirit of the day, instead, would have been private and reflective. 

Something horrible happened in Australia yesterday. It enlivened latent bigotry and xenophobia in the Australian psyche which many of us had hoped we, as a nation, would have overcome. If yesterday did nothing else, it held a mirror up to ourselves. It showed us that all Australians are not sweetness and light and good mates - but dwell in caves of unredeemed nastiness and bitterness which engenders disrespect of others.

The post below has been cross-posted with permission from The Network

The video above and the text immediately below are from the Melbourne rally.
Violent clashes at anti-Islam protests in Melbourne
Thousands of anti-Muslim and anti-racism protesters have clashed in cities and towns across the country after Reclaim Australia group organised rallies
Violent clashes have marred anti-Islam demonstrations in Australia.

Thousands of anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters clashed today after the Reclaim Australia group organised rallies in 16 cities and towns across the country.

The group claims to oppose Islamic extremism, the "Islamisation" of Australian society, Sharia law and the Halal-certification of most meats sold in Australia.

But counter-rallies were organised by other groups, who claim Reclaim Australia is anti-Muslim.
The most violent clashes were in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, where police struggled to hold back opposing demonstrators.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Paul Bentley said the Victoria state ambulance service treated four people, three for minor injuries, due to assaults in Melbourne.

The fourth was treated for chest pains.

Police arrested three people after groups clashed in the city's Federation Square.
A man at the Reclaim Australia rally in Hobart was arrested and charged with assault after his group clashed with the counter-rally supporting multiculturalism.

A large rally was held in Sydney, where police were forced to remove opposition protesters who stormed the Reclaim Australia stage.

Clare Fester, who organised a counter-rally in Sydney, said Reclaim Australia was racist and divisive.

"It's quite clearly an attack on Muslims and Muslim communities in this country," she told ABC News.
"It's all about halal food, sharia law, banning the burka."

But Reclaim Australia's John Oliver said it was wrong to label the group racist.

"We're not against any particular race or any particular religion," he said.
"We're against the extremists of one particular religion."

One Nation's Pauline Hanson addressed supporters in Brisbane telling them she was a "proud Australian" who wanted to fight for "our democracy, culture and way of life".

Other rallies were held in Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.

On April 4th an organisation named Reclaim Australia has called racist anti-Muslim rallies across the country. Their core demands include banning the burqa, opposition to halal food and stopping sharia law. It has attracted support from far right organisations such as the Australian Defence League.

Unlike previous far right events this rally has attracted a large number of attendees on Facebook. Reclaim Australia is trying to win credibility by claiming it is not racist to be anti-Muslim. Our counter-protest aims to challenge this and make clear the racist nature of their event. We hope this will stop the hard core racists behind this event from building any greater support.

In Sydney they have called their rally outside the Lindt Café, where the Martin Place siege took place in December. But Man Haron Monis, an unstable individual with a history of bizarre actions, had no connection to any terrorist organisation. Even Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has stated the siege had nothing to do with Islam. But Reclaim Australia is attempting to make a political link between terrorism, Islam and Martin Place.


Islamophobia is already being peddled in the political mainstream. Tony Abbott and the mainstream media have labelled the entire Muslim community as responsible for terrorism.

Abbott has effectively accused Muslim leaders of sympathising with violence and terrorism, saying, “I've often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a 'religion of peace'. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”

Abbott launched a scare campaign about terrorism following police raids in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, despite there being no evidence of any terror attack planned. Just one person was charged on terror-related crimes as a result.

The raids served to whip up fear and division in the community and allow the government to pass a raft of new and invasive anti-terror laws that curb civil liberties. The result has been a spate of violent attacks on Muslims around the country, especially visibly Muslim women who wear the hijab.

It is not a coincidence that Abbott has ramped up the Islamophobia while he keeps sinking in the polls. Across the world governments are using fear of Muslims, refugees and migrants to get away with budget cuts and austerity.

This is a desperate government trying to sow fear and xenophobia in the community as a distraction.


We are holding a rally on April 4th in solidarity with Muslim communities all over the country who are currently under attack.

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