Ipswich residents take a stand against racism
IPSWICH will not stand for racism.
That was the message proudly displayed by hundreds of Ipswich residents at the Stand Against Racism on Saturday.
The rally, held at the rotunda in the Ipswich Mall, attracted national media coverage of Ipswich's rejection of racist behaviour after an alleged racist attack at the Indian Mehfil restaurant.
Led by Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, the mall burst into song, with popular anthem I Am Australian being sung by the hundreds in attendance.
The Queensland Times organised the rally after an incident were a man allegedly racially abused the owner of CBD restaurant Indian Mehfil, Raj Sharma, his young children and several staff members.
One man has been charged by police, who are continuing to investigate the incident, following the attack.
Speaking at the rally, Mr Sharma said he had been overwhelmed with the community support.
QT editor Peter Chapman said people across the country should be following the lead and also making a stand against racism.
"We have given a template to the rest of Australia to hold similar rallies," Mr Chapman said.
"It presented the community with a poignant chance to say that we rejected racism.
"It's unfortunate that it takes a few to behave in a racist way to give somewhere a bad reputation.
"I think the Stand Against Racism demonstrated that the people of Ipswich clearly showed they are against it."
Leading multicultural advocate and Access Community Services CEO Gail Ker spoke to the crowd about her experiences working with settling migrants and refugees into the community.
Access Community Service specialises in assisting migrants with employment, training and youth support.
State Minister for Multicultural Affairs Glen Elmes spoke to the rally and said it was a sure sign the people of Ipswich had rejected racist behaviour (see below).
Mr Elmes, who visited Mr Sharma the day after the alleged attack, said he was pleased to see the community rally behind the cause.
Similarly Cr Pisasale spoke about the importance of the many different cultures in Ipswich.
He said Ipswich was home to people from dozens of ethnic backgrounds which was part of what made the city such a vibrant place to live.
EXCERPT of the speech by State Minister for Multicultural Affairs Glem Elmes:
I'd like to commend the Queensland Times for organising today's rally, and all of you for having the commitment to attend and make it a success.
A significant number of people gathering together around an issue is a powerful public statement.
What a pity we even need to be here today making the public statement that we support cultural diversity as a positive element of our society.
Difference is everywhere in our society, and none of us should be threatened by it.
A culturally diverse community is a vibrant community.
A culturally diverse community is one open to new ideas, tastes and customs.
The enemies of cultural diversity are narrow mindedness, bigotry and racism.
I don't believe that some recent public examples of racism here are indicative of how Ipswich residents view our state's cultural diversity.
The acts of a few cast a shadow over the whole Ipswich community.
The people of Ipswich are better than that… and this rally is a clear demonstration that you are.