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Clashes at Melbourne nationalist rallies

May 28, 2016

Seven people were arrested after fighting broke out between anti-racism and anti-immigration demonstrators in Melbourne. Up to 500 police officers attempted to keep the two groups apart.

Melbourne protests
Image: picture-alliance/abaca/AA

The confrontation took place when the left-wing "No to Racism" rally encountered anti-Islam protesters led by a right-wing group on the streets of the Melbourne suburb of Coburg on Saturday.

Local media said the nationalist United Patriots Front waited for the other group along the route.

Video footage showed protesters - many wearing masks - kicking and punching other demonstrators, using Australian flags on poles to beat one another, and police moving in to keep the two groups apart.

The anti-racism group hurled abuse such as "Nazi scum, off our streets" at the opposing rally, who displayed a sign which read "No refugees, our home, our future", the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Behavior condemned

Seven men aged between 18 and 33 were arrested and charged with offences including riotous behavior, attempted robbery and assaulting officers, Victoria police said in a statement.

"There was riotous behavior and it was appalling," Commander Sharon Cowden told reporters, adding there were only minor injuries.

The Socialist Alliance said their rally was organized against Islamophobia, the forced closure of Aboriginal communities, and the shutting of off-shore detention centers.

This is the eighth rally involving anti-Islam protesters that have turned violent in Melbourne since November, according to local media.

Asked about the rallies, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for "mutual respect," stressing that the multicultural nature of Australian society was "one of our great achievements".

Riots at Australian immigration detention camp

mm/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)