Date: 
Tuesday 18 September 2012

News

Professor gillian Triggs

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Violent Protest in Sydney

Statement from Professor Gillian Triggs, President, Australian Human Rights Commission

It is with disappointment and concern that Australians witnessed the physically violent demonstrations in Sydney on Saturday by some protesters angered by a YouTube clip which is disrespectful and offensive in its depiction of Islam.

Such violence cannot be condoned in a free and democratic society.

Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are important human rights, but they cannot be used to camouflage extreme and violent action.

It is vital, however, that the extreme behaviour of a small group of people are not seen to be representative of all Muslims.

The actions of a few should not condemn the contribution of the overwhelming major ity of Muslims who live in Australia and who do the things that everyone else does on a daily basis – go to work, go to school, play sport, garden and shop. 

The demonstrations raise broader concerns about the use of social media, and how we balance the competing interests of a fast moving internet and social media industry, and the rights of people to freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom from vilification and hatred.   

We need a greater accountability by host providers to manage offensive material or indeed material that is going to incite hatred and violence across the world.