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Protesters face-off in Canberra: Reclaim Australia and 'anti-racism' rallies at Parliament House

Anti-racism protesters were involved in fiery exchanges with Reclaim Australia supporters in front of Parliament House on Sunday afternoon, but the rally and counter-rally remained separate and peaceful. 

Roughly 100 people from a range of different groups had gathered to form the counter-rally by about midday. 

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Reclaim Australia versus 'anti-racism' protesters

Competing protesters shout over each other in Canberra as police keep the peace.

Members of Reclaim Australia marched to the site at 1pm, chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy" and anti-Sharia law slogans. 

Police were at the protest site in significant numbers and areas for the rally and counter-rally were separated by temporary barriers. 

Reclaim Australia rally at the front of Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday 22 November 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Reclaim Australia rally at the front of Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday 22 November 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

Canberra Anti-Racism Network organiser Dean Maloney said it was vital that the community band together to show racism was unacceptable. 

"It's important that Muslims, Indigenous people, refugees, the people who often bear the brunt of racism, are shown that they don't stand alone," he said. 

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"There are people who support them and won't let bigoted views go unchallenged."

Those in the counter-rally were urged by speakers to voice their views loudly when Reclaim Australia arrived. 

Reclaim Australia's Shermon Burgess, dubbed the "great Australian patriot", took to the stage and attacked the counter-rally, saying they had gathered because they knew Reclaim was growing and was "f---ing unstoppable". 

"These people [the counter-protesters] may not be terrorists with guns and bombs, but they are social terrorists," he said.

"They want a complete downfall of the system and the complete downfall of the Australian way of life."

He voiced support for Pauline Hanson and said the movement would soon have positions of power in government. 

The crowd was encouraged to chant "left wing scum, off our streets", and "everyone is welcome, Sharia is not". 

Prior to the arrival of Reclaim, John Passant, of the Solidarity Canberra group, told protesters that it was fantastic that so many had turned up to take a stand against the racism of Reclaim, and the racism of the federal government. 

"We need to stand together against the new current of politics that is developing in Australia," he said.

"A politics that sees race as a way of bettering themselves... of getting themselves noticed."

Rallies and counter-rallies took place in many major cities across Australia. Clashes have been reported in Sydney, where opposing groups gathered in Martin Place. 

In Melton, on the outskirts of Melbourne, protesters opposing the construction of a mosque were also met by anti-racism protesters on Sunday. 

Police arrested four at the scene, using capsicum spray on one, after ugly clashes broke out.