Sydney, Australia, Jan 27 (EFE).- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Saturday he condemned the activities carried out by a neo-Nazi group on Australia Day celebrations, adding that hate speech has no place in the country.
“Australia Day is where we commemorate everything that is great about this country,” he told local journalists about the Friday incident.
The holiday commemorates the arrival of the first British ships in Port Jackson, modern day Sydney, when the flag of the United Kingdom was first raised in Australia on Jan. 26, 1788.
The prime minister’s remarks come a day after a group of men dressed in black, wearing balaclavas and carrying Nazi symbols, boarded a train at a Sydney subway station, leading to a police intervention that culminated in the arrest of at least six people.
After leaving the station, the group gathered in nearby St Peters Park, where they chanted racist abuse and hateful words before they were dispersed by police.
“I don’t want to see people in balaclavas dressed in black from head to toe who are engaged in Neo-Nazi activity in this country,” Albanese said.
Also on Saturday, when the International Day of Commemoration is celebrated in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, Albanese said in a video posted on his X profile that the Holocaust should never be forgotten.
“Hate speech, hateful prejudice and racism have no place in Australia. As a proudly multicultural nation, we must always denounce and reject anti-Semitism,” he said.
In recent months, the Labor government has toughened measures against demonstrations that glorify the Nazi regime. In early January, it announced a law that carries one year in prison for people who flash the Nazi salute in public, as well as to those that display or sell Nazi symbols, such as flags or insignia of the Third Reich.
The entry into force of the new law occurs amid the increase in hate crimes against the Jewish and Muslim community in the country, as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas, although the increase in far-right groups was already a previous concern.
Previously, some Australian jurisdictions, such as Tasmania and Victoria, had already banned the Nazi salute last year and punished it with prison sentences and heavy fines.
However, exceptions apply in the country on the display of the swastika in educational, artistic, scientific, academic or religious contexts. EFE