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Seven Arrested In Melbourne Anti-Islam, Anti-Racist Rallies

Protests turned violent as scuffles broke out between opposing crowds.

28/05/2016 10:51 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Protesters and police clashed at Anti-Islam and Anti-Racist rallies on Saturday.

Five men have been arrested and two charged following violent rallies between over 400 Anti-Islam and Anti-Racist protest groups in Coburg in Melbourne's north.

Up to 500 police officers formed a line to separate the groups at the No To Racism rally on Saturday while mounted police monitored the situation.

Some protesters were sprayed with capsicum foam and a scuffle broke out after the two groups hurled abuse at each other and attacked others with flagpoles flying the Australian flag, the ABC has reported.

Police have said two males were arrested for riotous behaviour, one for assaulting police, one for hindering police and another for robbery. Another male was charged with possessing a lock pick while another was charged for carrying three knives, according to The Age.

Commander Sharon Cowden of Melbourne Police said: "We saw inappropriate and often cowardly behaviour with people wearing masks and hiding their identity and we actually believe that in these circumstances they're not coming to a peaceful protest.

"We have some people who try and do the right thing, they want to come along and have a rally and want to protest and have their say peacefully and then you get the extreme ends when people come along and all they want is a fight."

Senior police set up weapons checkpoints prior to the rallies and said they would not tolerate violence after previous protests in November last year turned "rowdy" and people were found carrying weapons.

"Unfortunately we're starting to see more and more of these protests in the streets and I just ask that people be respectful, we have all got the right to be heard and we should have our voices heard," Cowden said.

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