An anti-Islamic group rallied at Parramatta Mosque on Friday, demanding it be shut down until the mosque publicly rejects terrorism and Sharia law.
But they were outnumbered by counter-protestors opposing their racist sentiments.
The Party for Freedom activists held the rally one week after 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar shot and killed 58-year-old accountant Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta police headquarters. The teen was shot dead by police responding to the attack.
A heavy police presence, including the riot squad and undercover officers, attended in anticipation of large numbers. Police set up an exclusion zone of about 100 metres between the pro and anti-mosque groups.
Up to 50 people were on the west side of Marsden Street holding a sign that read “Stand with Muslims against racism” in support of the Islamic community. On the other side fewer than 30 people carried signs opposing the mosque. One sign read “Muslim terrorists not welcome here, neither are their leftist supporters.”
Nick Folkes, leader of the Party For Freedom, proclaimed “We’re there for the message”, and “I’m offended, it’s not right to kill someone.”
A Facebook page created by Mr Folkes calling for the closure of the mosque cited “a disconnect and double standards of an international banker [Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] who lives in Point Piper, Australia’s wealthiest suburb void of islamic cultural enrichment or immigration”.
Mr Folkes was previously affiliated with the Australian Protectionist Party, standing for election to the Leichhardt municipal council, but polled less than 0.6 per cent of the vote. – Photo and report by Rosaline Khiami