Thousands rallied in Sydney’s CBD this afternoon, in solidarity with Muslims following the Christchurch mosque massacre that occurred last Friday. Protesters stood strong in the rain, rallying against Islamophobia meted out towards Muslims in Australia, New Zealand and across the Western world.
The act of terrorism claimed at least 50 lives. Most victims were attending Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood Masjid mosques. It has been described one of the worst mass killings in the country, and was carried out by Brenton Tarrant, a man originally from Grafton, NSW.
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi criticised the hypocrisy of Australian politicians with regard to their purported championing of Muslim rights.
“They might be standing up now and condemning Fraser Anning and patting themselves on the back, but I haven’t forgotten the years of race baiting and the years of dog whistling that they have been doing against the Muslim community.”
Poet and activist Sara Saleh was addressing the crowd when a handful of people, allegedly aligned with the far-right, disrupted the rally. One man began to yell, “Jesus Christ is the answer.”
Saleh interrupted him. “I want a home where I can take all my brown friends, and all my women and all my Muslim friends with me wherever I go, and I don’t have to deal with that.” This was met with strong cries of “hear hear” from the crowd. The man was then escorted out by the police.
Around 20 police officers were present at the protest. They carried out checks on individuals the crowd, especially those who were wearing “suspicious” looking face masks, although the extent of this check is unconfirmed.
Chants of “Unite, unite, unite to fight the right… Black, Indigenous, Arab, Asian and White!” reverberated outside the Consulate-General.
“This attack is the result of many years of Islamophobia driven by mainstream politicians for political gain, racism we must take a stand against,” said rally organiser Rahaf Ahmed. “It is also the result of the dehumanising policies of the Australian government. Where are the de-radicalisation programs for the communities producing white supremacists? We must criticise these double standards.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge was also present. “This is a coming together in solidarity with the survivors, their families and communities, and it’s also to draw a line in the sand to silence and exclude the right-wing and racist extremists in our parliaments and neighbourhoods.”
Other powerful chants included, “Say it loud, say it clear, Muslims are welcome here!” and “Muslims are welcome, racists are not!”
A teary-eyed Ahmed Aboushabana, an Australian Human Rights activist spoke of the undying Muslim spirit, which he said is growing increasingly vulnerable in the wake of this attack.
“I would never allow any racists [to] stop me doing my worship, I would never allow any of these racists to come back to stop me practicing my religion. They could never stop me going to [the] mosque.”
Hersha Kadkol, the Ethnocultural Officer of the National Union of Students told Honi, “We are rallying today to show vital solidarity with the Muslim community and to unite against racism.”
On Tuesday 19 March, Sydney Uni’s Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) and Unite Against the Far Right are also organising a campus rally against racism and Islamophobia.