CANBERRA – Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has distanced itself from an anti-Islam stunt at a Central Coast church but warned if its concerns over Muslim extremists are ignored "we believe that there may come a time where there is civil unrest on our streets."
Up to 10 members and supporters of the far-right nationalist group, Party for Freedom, stormed the Gosford Anglican Church about 9.30am Sunday in mock Muslim attire, playing the call to Islamic prayer and chanting "wake up Aussies" and anti-Islam slogans.
NSW Police is investigating the incident which happened as Father Rod Bower was halfway through his sermon.
Father Rod - renowned for displaying prominent pro-asylum seeker messages on a noticeboard out the front of the church and offering sanctuary to refugees - has described the intruders as members of a "right wing hate group" and their actions as a "racist stunt" and "gross violation."
He's been offering pastoral care to churchgoers following the anti-Islam stunt. "They were shocked," he told the ABC.
"I worked out who is was fairly quickly, but the congregation didn't and they were certainly shocked and some of the congregation were quiet traumatised by it and we had to work very hard yesterday pastorally to care for people."
The Party for Freedom, which supports the anti-immigration policies of Pauline Hanson, have posted photos and videos of the raid on social media.
The Party's Facebook page prominently uses the image of senator-elect Hanson and organisers are planning to host a "Welcome Back Pauline" event on the Parliament House lawns when parliament resumes (August 30).
On Monday night, Party for Freedom chairman Nick Folkes told The Project he found the Federal Government's willingness to let Muslim refugees into Australia "offensive".
"I think Australia's been very generous over the years, and it's time to say no. We've got to concentrate on issues within Australia," Folkes told the program.
Waleed replied with a snide remark concluding that Folkes must then find a Muslim hosting a TV show a "real problem" before complimenting Folkes' beard.
"Before I let you go, Nick, may I compliment you on your quite Islamic-looking beard."
Watch the entire awkward exchange here.
Pauline Hanson's One Nation party is not offering support of the incident.
"One Nation does not have any official affiliation with the Party for Freedom and the executive of One Nation have not been in contact with group, nor were we aware of their plans to attend the Gosford Anglican Church," it said in a statement.
"It is also out of our control who shares photos of Pauline on their Facebook page, there are thousands of people who support what Pauline and One Nation stands for."
One Nation, which will have four Senators in the 45th parliament including Pauline Hanson, wants a Royal Commission into Islam, a freeze on Muslim immigration and a ban on burqas among other Islam related policies.
The Gosford Anglican Church sign has frequently taken on Pauline Hanson and One Nation.
However, One Nation said the Party for Freedom members went too far by entering the church and disrupting the sermon.
"A church is a sacred place to many people so perhaps the Party for Freedom could have had a different approach to making their statement," One Nation said.
"But this does go to show that tensions are high in the community when it comes to the topic of Islam."
"We have viewed the footage and Party for Freedom members were not violent towards the parishioners."
"Freedom of speech is a valued part of Australia's democracy.
"Many Australians feel that politicians have not listened to their concerns regarding Islamic extremism and the teachings of Islam and this has given rise to parties such as One Nation and also to groups such as Reclaim Australia and Party for Freedom who do speak up.
"One Nation does not condone violence of any kind, political-Islam must be attended to via legislation. However if these concerns are not addressed, we believe that there may come a time where there is civil unrest on our streets."
The Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Zed Seselja, has told Huffington Post Australia that the Party of Freedom protesters "have made themselves look pretty silly."
"I don't think they have furthered their cause, whatever that cause may be, "Senator Seselja told HuffPost AU.
"(The protest) is not 100 per cent clear to me. Although I see some of the elements of it."
"I think it is unacceptable. Whether it is a mosque, whether it is a church, whether it is a temple, people should not be invading people's sacred space," the minister said.
Security at the church is now being reviewed.