BENDIGO is a tolerant and accepting community.
As many of our community leaders came together to say yesterday, we have a long and proud history of embracing people of all cultures and who practice all faiths.
We believe every individual is entitled to practice their chosen faith free of judgement and hate.
However, in the coming week there will be some who try to tell the broader Australian and international community otherwise.
Far-right activists, the majority of whom do not live in Bendigo, will come here to rally – expressing their opposition to a mosque in our city.
They will be joined by far-left activists, who are counter-rallying in the hope the far-right group won’t be heard. Again, many of these people will not be Bendigo residents.
We respect the right of each to have their views.
However, we do not believe the majority of Bendigo residents support the action coming to our city.
Both are promising their actions will be peaceful and non-confrontational, but we have so far seen otherwise when the two come together. There are no winners.
As a news service, we are challenged by this.
The Bendigo Advertiser knows the only way both can be heard is for them to be given a voice through the media, and we have questioned whether indeed to attend.
But we know the national spotlight will be on our city, so it would be remiss of us to ignore what is happening.
We make it very clear, however, the Bendigo Advertiser disagrees with the actions of both.
We will not be covering the protest for the sake of spreading the message of either group.
We will only be there to expose the ugliness, should we believe it necessary to do so.
We would encourage others in our community to otherwise ignore the event and stay away.
There can be no show without an audience.
And we urge those who do decide to proceed with plans to rally in our city to do so respectfully, peacefully and free of violence.
Nicole Ferrie, editor