I was proud to be involved in last night’s Sydney rally against far-right, anti-Islam racist Geert Wilders, raising my voice against his bigotry. I believe he has the right to free speech but opponents have a responsibility to challenge his bile.
About 100 protesters are rallying outside a function centre in Sydney’s west where right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders is to deliver a speech.
Mr Wilders will address the conservative Q Society of Australia on Friday night on the third leg of his controversial tour of Australia.
The protesters, many carrying anti-Wilders placards, assembled outside the front of the function centre in the centre of Liverpool and chanted: “Muslims are welcome, racists are not.”
Police officers, including some on horseback, are ensuring guests invited to the event can make it through the crowd.
They are also blocking attempts by members of the media to enter the function centre and report on the speech.
In the lead-up to the speech, an anti-Wilders protester addressed the crowd over a loudspeaker.
“We have to make sure that these people are hounded if they try to do these things,” he said.
“Thanks for helping brand Geert Wilder what he really is.”
One protester, social commentator Antony Loewenstein, said Mr Wilders believed in dividing society.
“I think his message of division and hatred against Muslims is exactly the opposite of what Australians should be hearing,” Mr Loewenstein told AAP.
“It’s ignorant and shows a desire to exclude Muslims.”
Mr Wilders is the founder and leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, which holds 15 seats in the Dutch parliament.
He cancelled a media conference and speaking engagement in Perth on Wednesday after a four-star hotel scrubbed his booking.
He received a standing ovation on Tuesday in Melbourne, where several hundred people dodged a large group of protesters to hear the first speech in his Australian tour.