Elermore Vale residents fear an anti-Muslim protest today will fuel a race debate and hijack their concerns over controversial plans for a $6million mosque in the suburb.
Right wing nationalist group the Australian Protectionist Party said on its website that it would protest in Civic Park against the proposed mosque.
The party claimed the rally was being held on behalf of residents opposed to the development. But an Elermore Vale residents’ group has distanced itself from the protest, saying it would frustrate community efforts to have the development rejected on planning grounds.
A “call to action” at the party’s website said a mosque at Elermore Vale would encourage more Muslims to move to the area. “We were letting Muslims build mosques in Australia when Muslim countries would not let us build churches in their country,” Sydney-based spokesman for the party Nick Folkes told the Newcastle Herald yesterday.
Mr Folkes said the Newcastle Muslim Association was paying for the “mega mosque” using offshore money and could appoint an overseas Imam bringing radical extremists to the area who were violent towards non-Muslims.
Update: See “Mosque rally draws just four protesters”, Newcastle Herald, 4 December 2010