Aus­tralia’s far-right ac­tivists protest Syr­ian refugee hous­ing

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple ral­lied in the sub­urbs of Mel­bourne yes­ter­day, af­ter a pro­posal to house refugees lo­cally drew protest by far right anti-is­lam groups and counter protests. Po­lit­i­cal de­bate around Aus­tralia’s hard­line pol­icy to­wards asy­lum seek­ers has been heated re­cently, with the con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment last week an­nounc­ing plans to per­ma­nently ban asy­lum seek­ers who at­tempted to reach Aus­tralia by boat from per­ma­nently en­ter­ing un­der any visa cat­e­gory.

Dozens of peo­ple be­long­ing to the anti-Is­lam groups ral­lied on Satur­day against a pro­posal to house 120 refugees from Syria and Iraq, at a hous­ing fa­cil­ity for el­derly cit­i­zens in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Eltham. “They (the el­derly cit­i­zens) are a bit con­cerned about it but they will just wait and see,” John Conroy a res­i­dent of the aged-care fa­cil­ity said.

A heavy po­lice pres­ence sep­a­rated the group from more than 100 peo­ple ral­ly­ing in favour of the pro­posal. Pre­vi­ous protests be­tween anti-im­mi­gra­tion and pro-im­mi­gra­tion groups have led to vi­o­lent clashes. Aus­tralia’s cur­rent pol­icy of send­ing asy­lum seek­ers who ar­rive in Aus­tralian wa­ters by boat off­shore to Pa­pua New Guinea and Nauru, where their sta­tus as refugees is con­firmed or re­jected, has bi­par­ti­san sup­port in the Aus­tralian par­lia­ment.

Last year the gov­ern­ment an­nounced a one-off in­take of 12,000 refugees flee­ing the con­flict in Iraq and Syria, say­ing that eth­nic mi­nori­ties from those coun­tries would be given pri­or­ity. Far right po­lit­i­cal par­ties are on the rise in Aus­tralia, with the con­tro­ver­sial One Na­tion party sur­pris­ing many by win­ning four Se­nate seats at the coun­try’s na­tional elec­tions in July. — Reuters

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