The Illawarra Islamic community has slammed the behaviour of a minority who turned a peaceful Sydney protest violent and urged Australians not to stereotype the majority of law-abiding Muslims.
About 300 people gathered at Sydney Town Hall to condemn a film made in the United States that poked fun at the prophet Mohammed.
The protest moved to the US consulate in Martin Place, before erupting in Hyde Park where protesters clashed with up to 150 police officers.
Six police and 17 others were injured.
"The violent riots in Sydney are fully condemned by the Islamic Society of Illawarra and we fully support the continuation of the harmonious peaceful coexistence of all cultures and faiths in the Australian community," spokesman Abdurrahman Ceylan said yesterday.
"We fully support the freedom to peacefully protest but that does not give the right for minority groups to hijack our democratic rights, especially in a tolerant country like Australia," he said.
"We ask the Australian community to not stereotype the majority of law-abiding Muslims here based on the actions of a few individuals."
The rally on Saturday was the latest in a spate of demonstrations at US embassies and consulates in the Middle East, Africa, Britain and elsewhere against the film Innocence of Muslims.
It came as US President Barack Obama attended the ceremony for the transfer to the US of the remains of four diplomats killed in Libya.
Mr Ceylan said his community expressed "profound sorrow and condolences for the deaths of the innocent US Ambassador and his colleagues in Libya earlier this week".
"Additionally we condemn the violence that has taken place in other countries," he said.
"This film in question posted on YouTube is also condemned by our community and we classify it as a provocative and highly offensive act to cause anger and frustration among Muslims, not only in Australia, but around the world.
"As Muslims we wholeheartedly believe in freedom of expression and that each individual has the right to express themselves freely in a democratic forum," he said.
"However, freedom of expression comes with responsibility and it should not impinge, insult, and disrespect the sacred beliefs of others."
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