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Feb 20, 2013

Wilders from the outside: ‘here comes Nazi scum’

As Geert Wilders spoke in Melbourne last night, protesters gathered outside -- but it was less violent, and more ideological, than mainstream media reported. Crikey intern Michelle Slater was there.

As about 100 protesters gathered outside Geert Wilders’ speech in Melbourne last night, it was not so much a violent clash with police as a clash of political ideologies.

There were plenty of angry profanities being shouted through megaphones as people arrived to listen to the Dutch anti-Islam crusader speak at the Lebanese-owned La Mirage Convention Centre.

The location of the speech was kept secret to try to stop protesters gathering, but word got out through the magic of social media. Lifts were on offer from Roxburgh Park station to shuttle activists to the gig, which was in the treeless working-class suburb of Somerton, an industrial estate about 40 minutes’ drive north of the city.

A collection of self-righteous slogan-shouters from various left-wing activist groups like the Socialist Alternative, the United Struggle Project and Students For Palestine rallied out front.

“Here comes Nazi scum!” they chanted. “Racism! No way! We’re gonna fight it all the way!”

Signs included “F-ck off we’re full — of wankers already”. Or “Fascism is not to be tolerated — It’s to be smashed.”

I attended the protest, talking to people — and I never felt threatened. In fact, I felt a jovial spirit of solidarity emanating from the left-wing comrades.

Ten mounted police guarded the venue’s high wrought-iron gates. The horses looked relaxed and stood sedately on loose reins. I gave one of them a pat.

About 60 cops formed a line to allow speech attendees to safely enter the venue by car. There was a police car to guide them into the turning lane.

One attendee — young, with a shaved head — entered the venue on foot. He gave the protesters the one-fingered salute. “Racist scum!” they yelled back.

A man from the Australian Defence League — an anti-Muslim group with 57 “likers” on Facebook — tried to infiltrate the protest and hold up a sign. His presence was not tolerated by the indignant crowd. “You’re just a crazy loon who talks bullshit about Islam,” one shouted in his face.

“That’s racism. You’re a racist. You don’t want Muslims coming to this country,” shouted another. The bloke just stood there quietly.

Ben Coggins, a 31-year-old from Coburg, from Students For Palestine, was protesting against Wilders’ support of Israel, “which is committing acts of genocide against Palestinians and using a kind of Islamophobia to justify it”.

Another perspective was provided by protester Hillel Freedman, aged 41 from East Bentleigh: “I’m here as a Jewish person. This kind of thing compares to the same kind of thing Adolf Hitler said before he rose to power,” he told Crikey. “Hitler’s original intention was to [expatriate] Jews from Europe. I draw parallels to Geert Wilders, who wants to expat Muslims to back where they come from.”

The irony of some Arabic writing on the convention centre’s entry sign was not lost on Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councillor for Moreland City Council. “It’s no accident that the right-wing organise their meetings here in a working-class suburb with a high population of Muslims,” she said.

The crowd cheered when it was announced via megaphone that Wilders’ Perth speech (he‘s touring the country) was cancelled and money would be refunded to ticket-holders.

After a couple hours of rallying, one of the organisers announced that everyone needed to leave in an organised manner so that “we don’t have to be here all night waiting for these f-ckers to come out”. Banners were rolled up, the activists left and the police horses moved elegantly away.

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26 thoughts on “Wilders from the outside: ‘here comes Nazi scum’

  1. Counterpoint

    Well, of course you didn’t feel threatened… said they were your comrades.

    I saw people being pushed over who had arrived to attend the speech.

    It will be interesting to see how many of the same people would turn up to a mosque where an Islamic figure might preach similar racial hatred – against westerners. Would they have the balls to stop other Muslims arriving to listen?

  2. tonyfunnywalker

    What is it with the mainstream media – were they there or were they just stereotyping. I am equally pissed at the ABC for giving this clown an airing. The Jewish protester is right, Wilders’ rhetoric is exactly the same that that was used to demonise the Jews and it would seem that the reporting of anti Nazi rallies similarly. It is no longer on SBS but a Program ” Coppers” in a ” demonstration ” in Bolton was confronting. It was the attitude of the Police and their obvious stereotyping of the pro Muslim demonstrators reminded me of the way the police supported the Nazi Sympathisers marches on the East End of London led by Oswald Moseley.

  3. Alex

    Hard to reconcile “I never felt threatened. In fact, I felt a jovial spirit of solidarity emanating from the left-wing comrades.” with ““That’s racism. You’re a racist. You don’t want Muslims coming to this country,” shouted another. The bloke just stood there quietly.”.

    I’m sure that the outside was only welcoming to whatever brand of crazy-lefties who were the majority out there, just as Hussein’s report on the inside showed it to be welcoming only to the brand of crazy-righties who were the majority in there.

  4. Andybob

    An interesting and informative piece, thankyou Michelle for controlling yourself and not getting all shock horror on us. Unlike some I could mention ….


    Right-wingers holding meetings? Whatever will we do?

  6. ianjohnno

    One thing that bemuses me is the constant use of the word, racist.
    Religionism or culturalism perhaps but, to me, using racist is like pointing at the mangoes and proclaiming the tomatos substandard.

  7. zut alors

    Wilders has opted for the wrong audience. He fails to understand the all-encompassing apathy of Australians (unless they’re relating to sport). If he manages to generate any more than minimal support I’ll be surprised.

    Besides, in the interests of fairness, if we let clowns like M0nckton off the leash then every jerk should be given a turn.

  8. Kevin Herbert

    Free speech is exactly speech.

    You have the option in a functioning democracy of ignoring any view that offends you.

    However, the 4th estate won’t let you…they’ll fan the flames of public unrest in search of a 6pm headline.

    This is a storm in a teacup…just like the H R Nichols group..

  9. Douglas and Milko

    tonyfunnywalker: Yep, as a keen observer of history for my whole life, you and the Jewish protester have summed it up beautifully. There is a saying, that those who do not understand history are compelled to live it again and again (well maybe that is the colloquial version). Unfortunately, those of us who do understand history are also compelled to live it again and again. Of course, it will never be exactly the same history – there will be enough differences for the purveyors of the present prejudice to explain why this is different to (and righteous compared to) what happened before. But the essentials will be the same. Undermining of democracy, liberty, and a denial of education, jobs and livelihood to those who the currently powerful demonise.

  10. Patriot

    Wilders’ PVV party is more popular and won more seats in the Netherlands than our Greensparty here in Australia, and obviously more than all the loony socialist/communist parties combined. Goes to show who the fringe dwelling nuts really are.