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George Christensen Will Be The Special Guest At A Reclaim Australia Rally

Christensen insists the group is not anti-Islam, despite them urging people to support an "Australians Against Islam" page.

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Confirming his appearance in a Facebook post this morning, Christensen said he chose to speak at the event because he wants to "support people who seek to defend our Australian way of life, our culture and our freedoms from the threat of radical Islam."

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At Reclaim Australia rallies in Sydney and Melbourne in April, anti-racism protesters clashed with people with swastika tattoos who appeared to be from Neo-Nazi groups.

The local Reclaim Australia group appear to be very excited about their special guest.

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George Christensen told BuzzFeed News he decided to support the rally when he read through Reclaim Australia's mission statement and agreed with all but one of their principles.

Reclaim Australia / Facebook: 738620372859560

"The only one I don't agree with is about religious taxes on food," he said. "As long as Halal is clearly labelled it doesn't bother me."

Christensen said the manifesto of Reclaim Australia was focused on the threat of "extreme Islam" rather than being anti-Muslim.

"If they had things on that list that were like, 'we don't want Muslim immigration or mosques' then I wouldn't have agreed to it. But that's not the issue," he said.

Christensen told BuzzFeed News he wasn't concerned about the rally being hijacked by racist groups.

Joe Castro / AAPIMAGE

"I know down in Melbourne or Sydney there have been skinheads who have turned up to rallies but they are not reflective of the people who are fundamentally behind the movement.

"There won't be any skinheads or Nazis turning up in Mackay, because there aren't any skinheads or Nazis in Mackay."

Christensen said he was not concerned that his appearance at the rally would make him appear anti-Muslim to Muslim people in his electorate.

"Muslim people would know that I am not anti-Muslim. I have attended the local Islamic centre in Mackay, I have sat through one of their prayer sessions, I've met their Imam and celebrated Ramadan with them. What I can say is that the Muslim community in Mackay is not radicalised, it's a mainstream part of the community and has been for a long time," he said.

Despite Christensen's insistence that the group is not anti-Islam, yesterday the Reclaim Australia Mackay group encouraged its members to like a page called "Australians Against Islam".

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On the Australians Against Islam website, the explanation of the group's logo reads: "The Red 'I' signifies Danger, the crescent represents Islam, therefore stating the danger is Islam"

It goes on to explain that red represents "the colour of blood and fire, rage, anger, danger, malice, wrath. Whilst there are numerous other meanings for red, these descriptions we feel best describe Islam."

Acting shadow minister for citizenship and multiculturalism Richard Marles described Christensen's decision to appear at the "anti-Islam" event as "extraordinary."

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

"It is extraordinary that a member of Tony Abbott’s government will attend and address an anti-Islam, Reclaim Australia event. Reclaim Australia events are synonymous with racist behaviour," he said.

"Divisive and inflammatory actions from members of the government undermine efforts to build community harmony. Social inclusion involves concentrating on what brings us together, not whipping up division."

A Mackay local has set up a petition calling on Tony Abbott to denounce Reclaim Australia, and stop George Christensen from attending the event.

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The petition reads "in a country that has a long history of multiculturalism, we can't allow a Member of Parliament to participate in rallies that discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities in Australia."

But George Christensen is unlikely to cancel his appearance over the petition, claiming in his Facebook post that "Hell will freeze over before I give in to such intimidation."

In a video message, Reclaim Australia leader Daniel Nalliah described Islam as an "invading force."

View this video on YouTube

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"Using multiculturalism as an inroad, a gateway with the back-up of the UN General Assembly... We need to stand right now against this invading force of Islam into the west and the rest of the world," he says in the video.

Reclaim Australia will hold sixteen rallies across the country over the weekend.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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