ANTI-Islam group The United Patriots Front (UPF) from Melbourne has targeted Orange for its next rally, but Orange residents have a message for the extremists.
“Be quiet, go somewhere else, you are not welcome here.”
They are words from prominent religious leader Sister Mary Trainor who has lived in and loved Orange for 35 years.
“Orange people are tolerant and accepting of anyone’s race, colour and creed,” she said.
The UPF is a far-right street protest movement and fledgling political party that opposes immigration, multiculturalism and Islam.
Last year it held anti-Islam protests in Bendigo, Melbourne and Sydney.
The UPF contacted the Central Western Daily yesterday to announce a plan to hold an Orange rally in February and plans to visit the Orange mosque in Peisley Street today.
Orange woman Ellen Jones and four friends, who are not Muslim, founded the Support the Orange Mosque Facebook page in response to anti-Islamic hatred in parts of the community.
Ms Jones said she was proud to publicly stand in support of a group that had a right to practice their religion wherever it chose.
“We would say to any local residents considering joining this protest, do you really want to be the kind of person who is responsible for making members of this community feel unsafe, unwelcome and unwanted?” she said.
“Do you really want young children growing up in the knowledge that there are people who hate them enough to protest in the streets?
“We would hope that Orange residents are better than that.”
Orange councillor and Orange Social Justice Group member Neil Jones (no relation to Ellen Jones) said he was saddened to hear the UPF believed it had strong support in Orange.
“Everyone should resist this sort of intolerance,” he said.
Ms Jones said no counter rally was planned because it would “give legitimacy to the group.”
“The anti-Islam groups in Australia are, in our opinion, domestic terrorists who have engaged in a chilling campaign of fear and hatred against a largely peaceful minority,” she said.
Mr Jones agreed and said he hoped the Orange community would simply ignore the UPF presence.
The CWD contacted representatives of the Orange Muslim community but they declined to comment.