Five days after heated protests from extremists on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach, members of Australia’s African community have thanked some political leaders for their backing.
Independent senator Fraser Anning sparked a national debate over his attendance at Saturday’s event in support of the right-wing organisers, who gathered in objection to perceived African youth gang crime – a claim rejected by the African Australian Communities in Victoria group.
“We … thank the many political leaders and the vast majority of Australians who have spoken up and condemned the right-wing extremists and those who support them,” the group said on Thursday.
“It is important that all Australians defend social norms and standards that make our nation one of the most peaceful and prosperous multicultural countries in the world.
“The overwhelming majority of Victorian-Africans are law-abiding citizens and condemn any behaviours that threaten our peaceful, vibrant and harmonious multicultural state of Victoria that we love so dearly.”
Several federal politicians criticised Senator Anning’s attendance at Saturday’s event, at which some participants were seen making Nazi salutes, and also for charging taxpayers for flights to and from his Queensland home.
He stood alongside rally organisers, convicted criminals Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison weighed into the debate during the week, condemning the senator for his association with “extreme and offensive racist views”.
Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong also called on the government to stop doing deals with the senator to get legislation through parliament.