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Islamic school plans fire up locals -

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Islamic school plans fire up locals

AM - Thursday, 20 December , 2007 08:09:00

Reporter: Michael Vincent

TONY EASTLEY: There's more trouble brewing in the Sydney suburb of Camden over plans to build a
school there for Muslims.

Close to 900 people attended a rally last night to pressure the local council into stopping the
development of the 1,200 student Islamic school.

Things got so heated that police had to move in to control crowds gathered outside the meeting. It
could be a sign of what's to come. If the project is approved by either the council or via appeal
to the Land and Environment Court, some locals are threatening to take matters into their own
hands.

Our reporter Michael Vincent who attended the meeting compiled this report.

MICHAEL VINCENT: There's anger and frustration in Camden. And that was only compounded when the
organisers of last night's meeting underestimated the turnout, leaving more than 200 people locked
outside.

Among those shut out were young men sporting Australian flags.

They vented their anger yelling,"Let us in Mohammed, you're already dividing us up" at the hired
security guards, who happened to be of Middle Eastern appearance

Police promptly marched in and formed a line of protection across the front doors while police
horses waited in the car park.

A call for calm was issued.

ORGANISER: "Let's be sensible about this, let's voice our opinion but cut out the swearing, cut out
the bad language, and let's give everybody a fair go. Christmas is Christmas to us, it might not be
to other people."

MICHAEL VINCENT: The organisers of last night's meeting was the Camden/Macarthur Residents Group,
which is opposed to the Islamic school.

The group chose to let just one journalist inside the meeting. Outside there was no lack of
speakers.

MALE PROTESTER: If it does get approved, every ragger that walks up the street's going to get
smashed up the arse by about 30 Aussies.

SECOND MALE PROTESTER: That's it!

THIRD MALE PROTESTER: Country town, that's our culture.

PROTESTER: What's good for the goose is good for the gander, mate.

LOCAL: I'm actually all for the proposal of an Islamic school. I'm actually a regular church going
Christian, and I just think that, you know, I do not believe that Jesus himself would be here. I
just don't think that it's an incredibly compassionate or caring attitude to have. And I just think
that it's really upsetting that, you know, people are motivated enough to come out here for no
other reason than they seem to just be anti-Muslim and essentially racist.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Are you, you're obviously opposed to the school.

FEMALE PROTESTER: I am, because we do not have an Islamic community in Camden.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Is that the only reason you're opposed to it?

FEMALE PROTESTER: Oh no, it's in a rural area that's surrounded by farmland. It's not an
appropriate place for a school. There's no development there that warrants a school.

MICHAEL VINCENT: What do you think of Muslim people?

FEMALE PROTESTER: I don't know any.

MICHAEL VINCENT: And even if she had been able to get inside the meeting, she wouldn't have heard
any Muslim speakers because none were invited. One of those who had been invited was Reverend Fred
Nile from the Christian Democratic Party. He gave a speech about Islam's opposition to
Christianity.

This man, who left early, was not impressed.

MAN: Look, it was a propaganda exercise. It was a propaganda exercise to increase the, you know,
the fear in the local community. And most people in there were very receptive to it.

MICHAEL VINCENT: How does that make you feel?

MAN: Um... It makes me feel disappointed. I don't think it's representative of Camden. I think it's
representatives of a small minority of people who are very scared and who, when they meet with the
young families that will be coming out here, will see that the values are exactly the same as
theirs.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But Reverend Fred Nile says he was not inciting fear nor encouraging any physical
reactions to the project.

He spoke to media after the meeting and quoted from a passage in the Quran.

FRED NILE: "Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. That is the utterance of their mouths
conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them, how they are perverted."

So that means all the Aussies are celebrating Carols by Candlelight this week all over Australia,
millions of Australians, are condemned by the Quran. And sincere Moslems are supposed to believe
this book, the Quran, as the word of God. The word of their God, Allah.

REPORTER: Do you take everything that's in the Bible literally?

FRED NILE: Many Moslems take this literally, more than they take, than we take the Bible. I believe
the Bible's the word of God, but Moslems have greater belief in the Quran than Christians have in
the Bible. This is literally the word of God.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Camden Council's expected to make its decision on the school by March. Opponents
say they'll be planning more rallies.

TONY EASTLEY: Michael Vincent. And AM tried to contact the Quranic Society this morning, the group
behind the school proposal, but so far we've been unsuccessful.