Australian State Moves to Ban Nazi Salute After Rally

It was a startling sight on the stone steps of Parliament House, the seat of state government in Melbourne, Australia: more than two dozen people dressed in black, many masked, each raising an arm to follow. unmistakable Nazi salute.

About 30 people, who later identified themselves as members of the Australian neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Network, showed up on Saturday among a crowd of about 300 at a protest against human rights. of transgender people led by the British anti-transgender group. campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull.

The performance shocked political leaders in Victoria, the southeastern state of which Melbourne is the capital, who on Monday said they would move to ban Nazi salutes in the state. A local lawmaker from Australia’s centre-right opposition party has faced deportation after she attended Saturday’s protest.

Neo-Nazis have appeared at a number of events over the past few months in Melbourne — which has a long reputation as a progressive, multicultural city — including in neighborhoods with historically large Jewish populations and at events Honoring Aboriginal Australianswhile concerns about far-right far-rightism have spread across Australia.

In rural Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia, two police officers and a citizen were killed by three “sovereign citizens” in December. The attack shocked the nation. and was subsequently declared a “domestic terrorist” by the authorities, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announcing last month that he would review Australia’s anti-terrorism laws because of the attack.

The Australian Government has identified violent nationalist and racist extremism as a threat to the country’s security, in particular “the ability of these groups to radicalize individuals, who then carried out the attacks without any warning,” according to to a post on a government website.

Saturday’s protest was attended by Ms Keen-Minshull, a British anti-transgender campaigner who is also known as Posie Parker. She is on tour in Australia, with protests planned in other cities around the country, as well as in New Zealand. Between 300 and 400 supporters attended the event in Melbourne, with more than doubling the number of protesters. The two groups clashed during the event and had to be dispersed by the police.

Moira Deeming, a lawmaker from the center-right Liberal Party, was among those protesting against transgender rights on Saturday, although she did not join the Nazi salute. On Sunday, John Pesutto, leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria, said he planned to call a vote to expel her from the party this week for “organising, promoting and participating” in the protest. love, including staying after the arrival of the neo-Nazi faction.

Mr Pesutto said of Ms Deeming: “Her position is irreplaceable. “The violence, prejudice and hatred that these protesters convey with their heinous actions will never be tolerated in our state.”

Ms Deeming said on Monday that masked people had “broke down the gates” of the event and said the proposal to deport her was “unjust” and went against the “common Liberal tradition” of “the right to freedom”. strong thought and speech”.

Miss Keen-Minshull said in an interview with The New Zealand Herald that the Nazi salutes “have absolutely nothing to do with me,” adding: “I absolutely loathe anything Nazi-related.”

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Daniel Andrews, Victoria’s premier, affirmative support for transgender rights and said the neo-Nazi group had “gathered to sow hatred” in the city. He added: “Their evil ideology is to see minorities as scapegoats — and it has no place here. And so are those who stand with them.”

Jaclyn Symes, Victoria’s attorney general, said the government would introduce legislation banning Nazi salutes within months. “The behavior we saw over the weekend was cowardly,” she said. “It is clear that this symbol is being used to incite hatred against many, many minorities.”

The raised hand gesture, used in Nazi Germany to greet Adolf Hitler, is banned in Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, as well as other jurisdictions.

Following a sharp rise in anti-Semitism cases, Victoria became the first Australian state to ban the display of Nazi swastikas late last year, with violators facing up to 12 months in prison and fine of AU$22,000, about $15,000.

Josh Roose, a sociologist and far-right researcher at Deakin University, says the swastika ban seems to have worked.

“They want to avoid the adverse impact, from a legal perspective, on what they say they are willing to fight and die for,” he said. “In some ways, it can shut them down. We didn’t see any swastikas at that rally.”

Matthew Sharpe, also a researcher at Deakin University, said a protest targeting transgender people and their rights was a natural fit for neo-Nazis, both in terms of beliefs. their own and for the opportunity to recruit others for their own ends.

“This is a way to reach more conservative minded people,” he said. “They are communicating with an audience, likely people who, although they are not at all near the neo-Nazis, can see this single issue as a way to initiate a dialogue. .”


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