ACT News

Reclaim Australia Rally drowns out counter protesters

Reclaim Australia protesters held their largest rally yet on Saturday in Canberra kicking of a wave of Anti-Islam demonstrations in cities across the world.

Canberra organiser Daniel Evans labelled it "preservation of Australia Day" and at the podium congratulated 250 "fellow patriots" for making the journey to the capital.

Reclaim Australia national rally on Parliament House Lawns was the first in a series of globally coordinated Anti-Islam ...
Reclaim Australia national rally on Parliament House Lawns was the first in a series of globally coordinated Anti-Islam protests Photo: Graham Tidy

Saturday's protest was the first in a series of global rallies against the Islamisation of the West co-ordinated by German anti-immigration movement the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA).  

As the crowd marched up Federation Mall and flooded onto a Parliament House Lawn, split in two by barricades, a dubbed version of John Lennon's track Imagine came over the PA featuring the lyrics "Imagine there's no Islam".

Crowds cheered as Mr Evans shouted "we outnumber them and our voice is louder"

And on the day he was right.

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Under the watchful eye of close to 50 AFP special response, canine and general duties officers there were less than 40 counter protesters facing the swollen crowd of Australian flag-clad Anti-Islamists.

The number of "Don't stop the boats, stop the racists" t-shirts paled in comparison to dozens of placards reading "Islam denies freedom" and "Anti-racist is a code word or Anti-White."

Reclaim Australia member and Canberra resident Daniel Evans.
Reclaim Australia member and Canberra resident Daniel Evans. Photo: Graham Tidy

In his speech South Australian lawyer John Bolton warned of the risks of "Islamic barbarity" and fervently encouraged protesters to openly "insult and vilify Islam five times a day if you want to".  

He called for a ban on "Islamic face-masks" and stated mosques were a threat to Australian national security.

Arabella McKenzie protests dressed as a suffragete,
Arabella McKenzie protests dressed as a suffragete, Photo: Graham Tidy

"I want more terrorism powers to our squads to do random searches of mosques," he said. "I want an Islamic Schools watchdog. There must be random searches of Islamic Schools to make sure they're not teaching Sharia." 

Born and bred ACT resident and father of three Mr Evans said the position of Reclaim Australia was broadly misunderstood by the greater community. 

"We are a multi-ethnic country but we have one culture, Australian culture," he said.

"I'm not against Muslims. I'm against the ideology of Islam. We have extremists here preaching hate. These are the ones we need to get rid of." 

Arabella McKenzie, dressed as a Suffragette complete with parasol, said she felt compelled to "roll out of her grave" and protest with Reclaim to stand up for women's rights.

"Women's right to vote was nothing compared with what women are facing today in Sharia run countries," she said.

"A lot of people say "what culture in Australia are we defending?" but there is a culture here where woman can be free, have rights and are considered equal human beings. That's a good culture to preserve." 

An ACT Police spokesman said there were no arrests or issues with the protest. 

This is a stark change from last year's rally where police arrested four at the scene, using capsicum spray to defuse ugly clashes that broke out.