Greens MP slams ‘fascist’ prayer protest

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Around 30 men marched up a busy street in Sydney’s inner west on Friday night chanting the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary in what a local Greens MP has described as an act of “fascism”.

The men, associated with the anti-LGBT group Christian Lives Matter, were filmed marching on King Street in Newtown praying the rosary, as part of protests sparked by an offensive joke about Jesus by a queer comedian on The Project on Tuesday.

“Huge turnout with the boys praying powerful rosary in Newtown tonight,” the group’s founder Charlie Bakhos wrote on Instagram.

Videos showed the men, escorted by several police officers, forming a circle to recite the Lord’s Prayer before marching up the street, with a person at the front holding rosary beads above his head.

Around 30 men took part in the march on Friday. Source: @charliebakhos/InstagramAround 30 men took part in the march on Friday. Source: @charliebakhos/InstagramThey prayed the rosary while walking up King Street. Source: @charliebakhos/InstagramThey prayed the rosary while walking up King Street. Source: @charliebakhos/InstagramNSW Police say no arrest were made. Source: @charliebakhos/InstagramNSW Police say no arrest were made. Source: @charliebakhos/Instagram

Several diners seated outside were seen filming on their phones.

Mr Bakhos shared another video on Sunday writing, “Last night a group of men went to Newtown praying in the streets a day police attended guiding them. We are going to be asking for all to start really praying for Australia and the protection of our faith and our children.”

As footage circulated on social media, some described the scenes as “intimidating” and “creepy”.

“It’s easy for me to sit here two suburbs over and joke about how incredibly f**king lame these guys are, but if I was out in Newtown tonight and saw this I would absolutely have felt threatened. This isn’t a protest, it’s intimidation,” one person wrote.

“Police responding to group of men chanting the Lord’s Prayer in Newtown and protesting(?). Pretty creepy,” another said.

He later added, “Updated caption to the video: Right wing fascist ‘Christian Lives Matter’ group chanting on an anti-LGBTQIA+ march along King Street, Newtown. Police doing little to stop them even when they verbally and physically harass bystanders.”

Sydney man Charlie Bakhos from the Christian Lives Matter group.Sydney man Charlie Bakhos from the Christian Lives Matter group.

On Saturday, Newtown Greens MP Jenny Leong slammed the protest as “disgraceful”.

“Our Newtown community wears with pride our diversity — and we celebrate difference,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Fascism is not welcome on our streets. There is no place for aggressive, threatening and violent acts of discrimination and hatred.”

She added, “The so-called ‘Christian Lives Matter’ group of men who attempted to disrupt the atmosphere on King St / Enmore Rd last night appeared to have police walking alongside them. If you witnessed this please get in touch with our Newtown office so we can look into this further.”

Ms Leong also advised people to “take care” as “these incidents can be traumatic and make you feel violated”.

“Let’s keep flying the rainbow flag with pride — celebrating difference and diversity — and throwing glitter at the bigots,” she wrote.

In a statement, a NSW Police spokeswoman said officers with Inner West Police Area Command, along with specialist police resources, attended King Street “in relation to unauthorised protest activity” at about 8pm on Friday.

“Police spoke with a group of about 30 people who marched along the footpath on King Street, Newtown, before dispersing just before 9pm,” she said.

“No arrests were made. While we won’t comment on specific individuals, or groups, the community can be assured we continue to monitor activities and will take action where appropriate.”

Christian Lives Matter has also announced a “men’s rosary crusade” outside Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral at 1pm Saturday afternoon.

“Calling on 1000 MEN and sons to join Our Lady’s public prayer movement,” Mr Bakhos wrote. “WorldPride ends in Sydney this weekend and we are all called to be the light of Christ in this world.”

Queer comic Reuben Kaye on The Project. Picture: Channel 10Queer comic Reuben Kaye on The Project. Picture: Channel 10

Channel 10 faced calls for The Project to be cancelled this week after an X-rated joke about Jesus by queer comic Reuben Kaye sparked outrage among the Christian and Muslim communities.

“I love Jesus, I love any man who can get nailed for three days straight and come back for more,” Kaye said, leaving Waleed Aly looking stunned, while co-host Sarah Harris burst into laughter.

Viewers slammed the joke as “absolutely disgusting”, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority revealing it had received more than 200 complaints as of Friday.

On Wednesday night the hosts issued a grovelling apology.

The Project host Waleed Aly apologised to viewers. Picture: Channel 10The Project host Waleed Aly apologised to viewers. Picture: Channel 10

“During a live interview last night, our guest told a joke which we know was deeply and needlessly offensive to many of you,” Aly said.

“We want to acknowledge the particular offence and hurt that it caused our Muslim and especially our Christian viewers. Obviously, I understand how profound that offence was.”

Harris added that “live TV is unpredictable”.

“And when this happened in the last few moments of the show, it took us all by surprise, there wasn’t a lot of time to react in a considered way,” she said.

Aly then said, “We weren’t expecting a comment like that to be made and we acknowledge the offence it caused. We are sorry.”

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Some viewers defended the joke, saying they found it amusing. “I can’t believe Reuben Kaye just said that on national, prime-time television,” one wrote. “What an icon!”

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