SUPPORT for Muslim communities was overshadowed last week by ugly images of bloodied protesters and mounted police outside an anti-Islam meeting organised by the western suburbs-based Q Society.
The event in Somerton was part of a speaking tour featuring controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who described Islam as “not a religion” but a dangerous and totalitarian ideology.
Sunshine Mosque president Mustafa Ramadan said the Brimbank Muslim community condemned the actions of those involved.
“Our faith teaches us to be extremely patient and tolerant of others and their faiths and to live in peace and harmony within our community,” he said.
“We live in a place of multicultural people and for people to tear apart a religion they have no idea about is extremely hurtful.”
Mr Ramadan said the 10,031 Muslims living in Brimbank had been shaken by the events.
“We have never encountered any type of racial prejudice from people living in Brimbank,” he said.
“We in turn accept people for who they are. We practise our faith in our community, but we would never try to force it down people’s throats or judge anybody else on the faith they choose for themselves.”
Mr Ramadan’s response was echoed by the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV), which said: “We join the Australian Muslim leadership and imams in standing against violence. The faiths and communities we represent do not accept violence in any form, for any reason, or in any setting.
“We are proud to live in a multi-faith and multicultural society in which all community members have the fundamental right to freely practise their cultural and religious traditions without fear of vilification and discrimination. This right is rooted in mutual respect and understanding.”
FCCV spokesman Theo Mackaay, who is also a board member of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, said his affiliates deplored any activities which sought to ridicule and denigrate people on the basis of their religion and beliefs.
A police spokeswoman said they were notified of Mr Wilders’ visit in January.
“Prior to his arrival, Victoria Police engaged with stakeholders and potential protest groups to ensure the event was conducted peacefully and there was no breach of the peace.
“Victoria Police maintained a strong presence prior to and during the event.”
Spokesman Andrew Horwood said the Q Society was founded in 2010 to “educate Australians about Islam”.
— With Melissa Cunningham