On Sunday July 19th, the Canberra Anti-Racism Network (CARN) organised a counter-rally to Reclaim Australia’s march, a group whose online social media states their intention as ‘standing together to stop halal tax, sharia law and islamisation. ‘
One of CARN’s organisers, Vishnupriya De, stated that the aim of the counter-rally was to “send a clear message that the racist, sexist and homophobic ideas championed by the Reclaim Australia bigots were not welcome in Canberra.” This was reinforced on the day, with Reclaim Australia supporters immensely outnumbered, with about 40 hardcore protesters, as opposed to CARN’s 150, echoing recent rallies in other major cities.
There was also a high social media response to the event, with the Facebook page gaining a huge following. De noted, “The fantastic social media response certainly demonstrates that there are huge numbers of Canberrans who will not stay silent in the face of such disgusting racism.”
Starting on the west side of the National Library, the protests marched their way towards Parliament House, with police escort.
Many of the marchers on both sides had brought signs and banners, with Roxley Foley, a member of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, holding up a sign that read ‘Not Yours To Reclaim’, calling to attention the racial issues underlying the political protests.
ANU student, Amanda Georgia, who attended the counter-rally, said that it was an important issue to stand up for, “because as Australians, we are all racially, culturally and ethnically diverse… All of us deserve a voice”, adding that “How does one classify themselves as a ‘real Australian’ based on the colour of their skin?”
De expressed that “Canberrans who are against racism should keep their eyes out for future demonstrations in support of refugee rights and against the forced closures of Aboriginal communities. These events may be organised by the Refugee Action Committee and the Tent Embassy, members of whom have worked with the Canberra Anti-Racism Network.”