RE­CLAIM AUS­TRALIA RAL­LIES

Tol­er­ant city puts di­vi­sion be­hind it

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE PEEL char­lie. peel@ news. com. au

THE low turnout to the week­end’s anti- Is­lamic Re­claim Aus­tralia rally has been hailed as ev­i­dence of Townsville’s tol­er­ance and open­ness to other cul­tures.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the grow­ing num­ber of at­ten­dees at the an­nual Mul­ti­cul­tural Fes­ti­val in Au­gust, in con­trast to the diminu­tive crowd of 50 at the Townsville rally on Satur­day, was a good in­di­ca­tion of the city’s di­ver­sity.

“I’m not sur­prised ( the rally) was a bit of a fizzer,” he said. “It shows we have re­ally grown up and changed with the times, and are open to other cul­tures and other peo­ple’s views.”

About 50 de­mon­stra­tors gath­ered in Kir­wan’s Dan Glee­son Me­mo­rial Gar­dens to rally against what they be­lieve is the “Is­lam­i­fi­ca­tion” of Aus­tralia, far fewer than the 1000 who at­tended for the same cause in April.

Rally or­gan­iser Kim Vuga, who fea­tures in an up­com­ing SBS doc­u­men­tary Go Back to Where You Came From, said she recog­nised there were peace­ful Mus­lims liv­ing in the com­mu­nity.

But she said there were fun­da­men­tal prob­lems with Is­lam it­self, in­clud­ing Sharia law and links with ter­ror­ism.

“If you are speak­ing about Is­lam, it is not a race, it’s a to­tal po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy, so peo­ple who think this is a racially mo­ti­vated rally are com­pletely off the mark,” Ms Vuga said.

“We have an opin­ion and we still have the free­dom of democ­racy in our coun­try, and while we’ve still got that we are start­ing to get louder.

“We are at a high terror alert at the mo­ment and the Aus­tralian peo­ple don’t want what is hap­pen­ing over­seas in places like Europe to hap­pen here.”

Herbert MP Ewen Jones said the rally was not some­thing he stood for.

“I like to think Townsville has a very cen­tred pop­u­la­tion,” Mr Jones said. “I don’t know what to make of the size of the rally, but they had a rea­son­able turnout the first time ( in April).

“I be­lieve in a mul­ti­cul­tural Aus­tralia and am thank­ful for the great things im­mi­grants have done for this coun­try.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

BIT OF A FIZZER: Townsville’s Re­claim Aus­tralia rally or­gan­iser Kim Vuga.

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