Students at a Hindu temple have staged a sit-in to demand that the temple be shut down after it was vandalized with swastikas and other racist messages.
The students, who say they are members of the Indian National Congress, were protesting against vandalism at the Shambhala temple in the southern state of Tasmania.
The vandalism, which has since been removed, was done in an attempt to “disrupt Hindu worship” at the temple.
A group of students are currently holding the protest at the Hindu temple, where they are protesting against the vandalism, ABC news reported.
The protest began in the afternoon, with several students gathering outside the temple and holding signs reading “Stop Hinduism”, “Stop Racism”, and “No Hindu Temple”.
Some of the protesters are wearing masks.
The protesters said the vandalism was done “to disrupt the worship and the sacred nature of the Shlama temple” and that it was done because “the temple was being used for Hindu propaganda.”
The protest has been going on for three hours and has been met with some violent confrontations by police, with one student reportedly striking a police officer.
Students at the protest said they are concerned about the growing threat of hate speech and violence in the country, and the government’s lack of action to curb the growth of hate crimes.
“We want to bring our message out and make a statement to the government about the increasing hate speech in Australia,” student Dhananjay Prabhu told ABC news.
“Hate speech in this country is increasing every day, it’s not just from Muslims and other minorities.
It’s happening against other minorities as well.”
Students have been demanding that the Shamalas temple be closed and that all the temple’s activities be cancelled for at least three weeks.
Students also want to see the Australian government enact tougher anti-hate speech laws.
“The government has done nothing for us.
It hasn’t even taken any action,” student Prabhan said.
“It’s not going to stop this hate speech that is happening.”
The students’ protest comes at a time when the government is grappling with a spate of hate crime cases.
Earlier this week, the country saw an attack on a Hindu youth in Brisbane, with an 18-year-old man assaulted and stabbed in the neck by another man during a clash at the state’s biggest mosque.
“They want to keep us quiet and quiet is not the right word,” one student said.
The Australian Human Rights Commission said the government had a “culture of silence” around hate crime.
The government said it was committed to combating hate crimes, and was investigating the attack.
In an email to students on Monday, the minister for education and training, Mark Scott, said that a range of measures were in place to tackle hate crimes including the implementation of hate pre-crime notices, anti-racism training and “anti-bullying initiatives”.
“I would also like to thank the students who have participated in the sit-ins at the Temple of Shambalas for their efforts to support the efforts of the government to combat the growing threats of hate and bigotry,” he wrote.
“This is just one of many examples of how this government is working hard to ensure that our society is safe and healthy.
I would encourage you to share your thoughts with your local community.”
The minister’s office also issued a statement saying that the minister would be meeting with students in the coming days to “discuss the impact of the recent events and how we can best prevent further attacks.”
“This sit-down with students is an important step in our ongoing dialogue to address the growing levels of hate violence,” the statement said.