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Sydney Muslims rally against free speech

Today, the Sydney Morning Herald, not usually known for a unequivocal stand against jihadism, reported that although police confirmed than more than 12 demonstrators had been moved on from the rally for breaching the peace, the event was peaceful. Presumably, these were peaceful breaches of the peace then…

Meanwhile, the ABC online news site reported that at least four demonstrators were arrested and 10 had been moved away from the site of the rally for having breached the peace.

Among the 800 protesters rallying in the Muslim-dominated suburb of Lakemba, held aloft placards displaying phrases such as “Je Suis Muslim” (“I am Muslim”), in a rather curious attempt to engender a similar sentiment as that which gained such prominence following the islamic attacks on the staff of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Local Muslim leader Sufyan Badar addressed the throng, saying the rally was in a sense an answer to the protests in the aftermath the Paris attack. Badar argued that in fact protests defending free speech had nothing to do with the notion of freedom itself. “[It’s] the smokescreen with which Western politicians and media conceal the underlying issues,” he said. “In reality, free speech is one of the many political tools that are used to maintain dominance over the muslims.”

“We rejected freedom yesterday, we rejected freedom today and we reject your freedom tomorrow,” added Badar.

Prior to the demonstration, Prime Minister Tony Abbott had sounded a warning against the rally being used to incite terrorism and hoped only few people would turn up for the demonstration. The Prime Minister also called on more Muslim leaders to put distance between them and “evil things that are done in the name of Islam”.

This, in turn, prompted Hamzah Qureshi, a spokesman for the controversial group Hizb ut-Tahrir —
which is outlawed in many countries, including a number of Arab nations — which helped organise the rally, to question the prime minister’s comments and the suggestion that the protest might incite violent acts. He said, “No one should be asked to apologise for or distance themselves from something they are not responsible for.”

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