Australia

Ugly clashes at anti-Islam rallies in Australia

A fight breaks out during anti-Islam protests in Melbourne on Sunday Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The largest and most violent of Sunday's anti-Islam protests took place at Melton in Melbourne's north-west

Ten Australians have been arrested in nationwide protests involving both anti-Islam and anti-racism groups.

Six people were arrested after clashes broke out at Melton on Melbourne's outskirts on Sunday.

Police also subdued a seventh man, 29, with capsicum spray after he allegedly punched a horse. The anti-racism protester is expected to face charges.

Three men were arrested during separate protests in the states of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

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Image caption Demonstrations took place at Martin Place in Sydney's CBD

The men, aged 36, 48 and 64 respectively, were detained in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane for alleged offences including damaging a memorial, affray and public nuisance.

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Image caption Melton locals had reportedly planned to demonstrate against the construction of a mosque

Rallies were also held in Canberra, Perth and Hobart, but police said no incidents were recorded.

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Image caption The riot squad and mounted police worked to keep hundreds of protesters apart at Melton

One man in Melton told the media he had joined the nationalist Reclaim Australia group's rally "for the right reasons".

"Some people might be here for the wrong reasons, and the right reason is making sure everyone assimilates and becomes Australian," the man told AAP.

"We don't want to be treated like we don't belong in this town and we don't want an organisation where people of certain origins have been making trouble. We don't want trouble in our town."

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Image caption Victoria Police acting commander Alan Byrnes expressed disappointment that protesters turned up to the event wearing masks

Darwin Police said no rallies were held in the Northern Territory.

"We're pretty tolerant, we love everyone here in Darwin," a police spokesperson told the BBC.

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Image caption Counter-protesters from anti-racism and refugee groups faced off against the anti-Islam protesters, fuelling tensions

The Reclaim Australia group has held a series of rallies around Australia, some of which have turned violent in the past.

Clashes between anti-racist groups and radical nationalists broke out at a Melbourne rally in July.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fights broke out between anti-Islam and anti-racism groups, with a total of six people arrested in Melbourne

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