The mother of a young child who was seen holding a sign saying “behead all those who insult the prophet” during the Sydney riots has spoken to police, with authorities deeming her children to be safe.
A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward told smh.com.au the woman had presented herself to police overnight.
Safe … a mother takes a photo of her boy holding up a sign at Saturday’s Islamic protests in Sydney. Photo: Bevan Shields
“She did come forward and police have checked the children and they’re safe,” he said.
He said there were no plans to remove the children from their family.
The photo of the young child holding the sign while standing next to a baby in a stroller in Hyde Park has become one of the most evocative and highly circulated images from the riots in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday.
Ms Goward told 702 ABC Sydney this morning that the mother went to police overnight because she had heard government warnings of tracking her and the child down.
“She apparently said the child had been brought [to the protest] because they didn’t expect it to become violent, which you might disagree with, but that was her account,” Ms Goward said.
“The police then went back to the house and assessed the children and assessed that they were safe. So that is where they remain.
“But I think there is unfinished business in ensuring that the messages about mutual respect and non-violence are applied to all of us and that all our communities understand that that’s what we certainly particularly expect from children.
“Parents do crazy things; she might just well have thought it was a giggle to get him to hold the sign, a cute little photograph.
“But it is just unacceptable to the rest of us.
“This family are now on the radar. We’ve had a full history done and there have been no other reports. But she knows … that there is now a report and there will be follow-up and it’s something that she will need to be conscious of.”
Senior Muslim community figures condemned the action of the woman.
Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan says while he welcomes the mother’s decision to go to police, he disapproves of the behaviour.
‘‘That’s something that we don’t encourage within our community, it’s something we condemn,’’ he told reporters at Lakemba mosque in Sydney’s west today.
Mr Dandan said he would try to talk to the mother, but added he had been told the boy may have found the sign on the street and was ‘‘caught up in the hype’’ during the demonstrations.
‘‘Does a child really understand what’s written on that placard?’’ he said.
Coalition MP George Christensen yesterday suggested that the child should be put in the care of “better people”.
“Using a toddler to peddle an incitement to violent killing is disgusting and I think the Australian public would expect the authorities to take up the matter with the parents,” Mr Christensen said in a statement yesterday.
“If the parents are exposing their children to religious hatred and encouraging violence then perhaps those children should be put in the care of better people.”
Police charged a seventh man over the riots last night.
The 18-year-old allegedly used a milk crate to damage a police car in Hyde Park, police said.
The teenager handed himself in at Bankstown police station.
He was charged with malicious damage and affray and freed on bail to appear in Downing Centre Local Court on October 15.
The riots were sparked by an anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube.