Rival Australian groups clash on race

A policeman uses pepper spray towards a protester during clashes in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, Australia, 28 May 28.Image copyright

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Police tried to keep the two sides apart with pepper spray

Australian police have used pepper spray to break up clashes between two rival groups battling over race and immigration in Melbourne.

Demonstrators in a march against racism clashed with protesters against immigration, with hundreds of police trying to keep them apart.

Several people were arrested for rioting and assaulting police.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia’s multicultural society was still “a work in progress”.

Victoria state police condemned the behaviour of groups of demonstrators during the rallies in the suburb of Coburg.

“There was riotous behaviour and it was appalling,” Commander Sharon Cowden told reporters, adding there were only minor injuries.

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Police complained of inappropriate and cowardly behaviour of both groups with people wearing masks

Racism, immigration and the the fear of Islamist extremism have become important issues in the run-up to parliamentary elections, to be held in July.

The anti-immigration protesters carried banners saying “No refugees, our home, our future”, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Demonstrators from the anti-racism group hurled abuse such as “Nazi scum, off our streets” at them.

Mr Turnbull stressed that the multicultural nature of Australian society was “one of our great achievements”.

But he added: “There is more work to do. This is not something to be complacent about. This is a work in progress.”

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