NSW Premier asks for probe into boy holding beheading sign at anti-Islamic film protest in Sydney
THE NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has asked the Family and Community Services Department to investigate the use of a young child photographed holding an sign calling for the beheading of those who insult the prophet.
"I asked the minister yesterday what can be done," he said on radio this morning.
He expected to have a reply sometime today.
The image of a Muslim mother photographing the little boy with the sign has infuriated the public, including members of the Muslim community.
Mr O’Farrell was speaking on the Ray Hadley show this morning about the riot in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday.
The Premier said if he was supplied with an image of the woman he would be asking authorities to find out who she is.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has defended the way police dealt with Saturday's riots amid claims that riot squad officers were held back when they wanted to "go in hard".
Mr Scipione said the first he had heard of any criticisms from the frontline police was from broadcaster Ray Hadley this morning.
Hadley has told the commissioner during an interview on radio station 2GB that he had spoken to four officers who were at the centre of policing the Muslim protest that erupted into a riot and they said they were "continually refused permission" from senior officers to go in hard.
Hadley said the officers had told him that they could have had the protest over in an hour instead of it going on all afternoon.
"I'm not aware of that," Mr Scipione said.
He said that he was not a "namby pamby" commissioner and thought the police did a great job - and would be do it again.
"If they want to turn up again and they want to act like extremist criminals, we will treat them like extremist criminals," Mr Scipione said.
Police are still hunting for the owner of a computer used to send out a text message that sparked Saturday's riots.
As counter terrorism experts and officers across the country were placed on high alert in anticipation of retaliatory attacks, the contents of the SMS that incited the mob was revealed yesterday.
Saturday's protest, part of a global demonstration against an anti-Islamic YouTube film which insulted the prophet Muhammad, was initially planned for yesterday but organisers had to bring it forward 24 hours when they realised it clashed with the Sydney Running Festival, meaning numerous CBD roads were off-limits.
The text message is thought to have been generated on a computer and sent out to thousands across Sydney.
"Emergency change of date it's on tomorrow!!! They have mocked him in pictures and now MOCKING HIM in a MOVIE WHY ARE WE ALLOWING THIS!!!! WHY ARE WE SILENCED ....WE MUST DEFEND HIS HONOUR.... Tomorrow 15.9.12 @ TOWN HALL STATION 1PM... WE MUST ACT NOW!!!!!!!!! Spread the word fast!!!" the message read.
Police were first alerted to a possible protest via Facebook on Friday night and sources confirmed 80 officers were already on standby on Saturday. The ensuing riot, in which bottles were thrown, left six officers injured.
Scores of police were last night posted outside Town Hall and in Hyde Park after intelligence suggested some Muslim extremists were planning a follow-up protest.
The Islamic Council of Victoria issued a statement saying it is appalled by the violent riots.
"While we respect the right to legitimate protests, we condemn all acts of violence and unlawful behaviour," the statement said.
"It is abhorrent that these filmmakers could show such disrespect to the Prophet Muhamed who we hold in the highest esteem," ICV President Ramzi Elsayed said.
"However it is also completely unacceptable that individuals should defile his peaceful teachings and example by responding with acts of violence."
Senior members of Australia's Muslim community will meet in Sydney and Melbourne tonight to try to head off any repeat of the violent weekend protests in Sydney's CBD.
Police and Muslim organisations are concerned about fresh violence following Saturday's clashes with police during protests over an anti-Islamic internet video.
Members of the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Islamic Council of NSW are among those who fear new violence.
The two groups will meet in Sydney on Monday night to discuss ways to defuse tensions.
The Islamic Council of Victoria is arranging a meeting of imams and community leaders in Melbourne to prevent the violence spreading.
Meanwhile, campaigns have sprung up on social media websites urging members of the Muslim community not to engage in violence.
Saturday's violence was reportedly arranged by text message, and police and Muslim leaders are now trying to establish the source.
Sydney Lebanese community spokesman Keysar Trad said he received a text message on Friday urging recipients to "come and defend the honour of the prophet" in Sydney's CBD.
He said he did not know who sent the message and condemned the resulting violence.
"This was the dumbest thing that young people could do - all they've done is publicised a film that doesn't deserve to be publicised," he told AAP.
Samir Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association told the ABC he also did not know the source of the messages.
"So far we've spoken to many different people to see if they know who these guys are," he said.
"These are the types of guys who tend to move from one group to another group - that's not to say that that is their strategy."
Last night, the US State Department would not comment on whether it had taken extra measures to increase security at its diplomatic missions in Australia, including the US Embassy in Canberra.
The US ambassador says he feels safe in Australia and has no intention of bowing to demands by a radical Muslim group to leave the country.
Jeffrey Bleich was speaking to reporters after demonstrators angered by an anti-Islam film rampaged through Sydney on Saturday, and following the death of his counterpart in Libya after a similar protest there last week.
Mr Bleich has also faced calls from the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia to withdraw from the country.
The ambassador today used his address to the Asia Pacific FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) conference to thank NSW and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers for protecting American diplomatic staff during the clashes in Sydney's CBD on Saturday.
With Islamic groups fanning anti-American sentiment across Western nations, Mr Bleich insisted he was untroubled about his personal safety because he could rely on the AFP and state police forces.
"I'm not in fear of my safety because I have great confidence in law-enforcement personnel that we have here," he told reporters.
"We also have a well-developed plan in order for protecting our consulates and our mission.
"So we're continuing to be business as usual and that's what people expect from us.
"I've got family members who want me to be expelled from Australia, but so far they haven't been very successful.
"I intend to stay and, as I've told people many times, I love serving this place and they're going to have to pry me out."
Police confirmed they were investigating the origin of the message, as well as similar posts on social media promoting the protest.
The incitement mirrors the lead-up to the Cronulla riots in 2005, which were also organised via text message.
The only one of the six arrested on Saturday and refused bail faced Parramatta Local Court yesterday after he was arrested in Hyde Park for allegedly attacking a police officer. Former boxing champion Ahmed Elomar, 29, is accused of throwing a glass bottle at an officer.
A magistrate refused bail, citing his "seven-page criminal history".
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione has set up Strike Force McAlister in response to the protests, and warned those responsible for injuring police and civilians to come forward.
"Clearly many people who were there wanted to lawfully protest," Mr Scipione said.
"But there were some determined to make trouble. They were there and were proposing to commit offences.
"You don't wear a balaclava, you don't wear a face covering unless you are going to get up to badness. We saw plenty of those in the crowd."
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell yesterday condemned the "extremists" who used violence and urged the police to ask for more powers if needed.
"The commissioner knows if they need extra powers they need but ask," he said.
At a Muslim conference in Bankstown yesterday, the mood was calm as most people expressed dismay at the violence. "It needs to be made very clear that what went on in the city is not reflective of all people ... it was a very small few who chose to act so badly," one Muslim man said.
An eight-year-old girl named Rugaya wrote her own message to the children of Syria, and read it out at the conference. "We feel your pain, and will always stand by you," Rugaya told the gathering.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/news/nsw-premier-asks-for-probe-into-boy-holding-beheading-sign-at-anti-islamic-film-protest-in-sydney/story-fnehlez2-1226475905656#ixzz26mWxD9L4