MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The presence of extreme racist elements in Australia’s latest anti-Islamization rallies is a source of concern, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said Monday.
"We see neo-Nazi and racial supremacist groups making their presence felt. We see Nazi symbols and paraphernalia,” Soutphommasane said in an interview with Radio National (RN) Breakfast.
At least eight arrests have been made over the weekend during clashes between anti-Islamization and anti-racism groups that staged rival protests in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and other Australian cities.
"It is a source of concern that we are seeing organized extremist elements operating in public… What we need to avoid is for such groups to be emboldened and to take matters to the next level,” he added.
A group named Reclaim Australia, which organized the weekend anti-Islamization rallies, staged similar protests in April across 16 cities and faced opposing groups of anti-racism demonstrators.
Reports of Australians travelling to fight for ISIL jihadist group in the Middle East, in addition to government warnings of terrorist threats in Australia, have fuelled anti-Islamization sentiment in the country.
Upwards of 100 Australian citizens are estimated to have gone to Iraq and Syria to join the ISIL militants
Last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said 23 Australian citizens have been arrested in counterterrorism operations in the past nine months. The Australian government has made the same terrorism-related arrests in the last decade and a half.