Holocaust museum opening in Canberra amid concerns of right-wing extremism and antisemitism

  • 28/01/2021
Crowd protesting Australia Day in solidarity with Aboriginal community.
Crowd protesting Australia Day in solidarity with Aboriginal community. Photo credit: 7News.

By Asha Abdi.

A holocaust museum has received funding in Canberra in an effort to combat a rise in right-wing extremism and antisemitism.

Australian federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced a $750,000 grant to establish the museum and education centre on Wednesday. 

Frydenberg says antisemitism and extremism in Australia is escalating after supporters of the white supremacist group Proud Boys clashed with Australia Day protesters.

"We've seen antisemitic acts on the rise against kids in Victorian schools including, tragically, kids as young as five," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

He said antisemitism is a local and global issue and he has seen cases of Jewish owned businesses being vandalised with swastikas.

"We've seen swastikas on businesses that happen to be owned by Jews or Jewish sites. Indeed on material for a theatre production of Anne Frank, of all things." 

Those concerns heightened following clashes at Australia Day protests on Tuesday. 

Thousands of protesters gathered outside Parliament while other marches took place around the country.

A man donning a Proud Boys shirt and an Australian flag cap was dragged off in handcuffs by police.

Victoria Police said he was released shortly after with no charges. 

Other supporters of Proud Boys wore hats and shirts and joined another march protesting the cancellation of the official parade.

Australia Day is a national holiday commemorating the arrival of the first fleet of British ships in Sydney in 1788. It is now widely referred to as Invasion Day.

Wurundjeri Aboriginal elder Bill Nicholson, who attended the Invasion Day protest, called for better recognition of Australia's Indigenous history.

"We want you to listen to our voice, and that is why I believe we are here today with so much support, wanting our voice to be heard and listened to and respected," he told the crowd.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation deputy director, Heather Cook said the coronavirus pandemic contributed to an increase of radicalisation.

"Because of the amount of time individuals are spending in isolation, working from home, or not in school. It's much easier to find like-minded individuals," Cook told a parliamentary committee last year.

The (ASIO) also announced that far-right violent extremism made up to 40 percent of its counter-terrorism caseload.