Video: Police Forbid Journalist from Walking Past Mosque


An outspoken critic of Islam recently posted a video revealing what she deemed a “no-go zone” in an area of Sydney, Australia.

“As soon as we arrived in Lakemba, things were tense,” Lauren Southern said. “There were heads turning, people coming out of shops to look at us and find out what we were doing. Men started yelling in Arabic across the street at us.”

Southern said she had been in the community for less than 10 minutes before someone “tipped off the media” that she and her camera crew were walking through the neighborhood.

A short time later, she said she was attempting to walk past the local mosque when “a very high-ranking police officer” stopped her.

The officer was identified as Inspector Rick Agius

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“I’ve been informed that you are intending to attend the Lakemba mosque,” the officer said. “Is that correct?”

Southern told him she only planned to walk by the mosque, prompting him to request that she not proceed any further.

“I’ve got concerns that you may cause an imminent breach of the peace down there,” Agius told her. “So I’m asking you not to attend.”

When she asked why, he said that it is “highly religious down there” and he had “grave concerns” that she would “cause an imminent breach of the peace.”

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Southern then asked if it would be her or the local community disrupting the peace.

“Well, your presence may cause them to be offensive, be objected to you attending there,” he said before asking the cameraman to turn away from him.

The audio continued recording and revealed the officer explain that the area is generally safe.

“I understand you have your own beliefs and you’re allowed to have your own beliefs,” he said. “I have no issue with that. I’m asking you not to attend down there because I have a fear that you may cause an imminent breach of the peace. In doing so, you may commit an offense.”

After continued back and forth, Agius finally made it clear that Southern would not be permitted to question locals even without a camera or microphone.

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“I’m telling you no,” he said. “You’ll commit an offense. Why do you need to do it here?”

She told him that it is a “highly Islamic” area allowing her to “criticize Islam” with practitioners of the faith.

“Why do you want to criticize Islam?” the officer asked. “Like I said, I have fear that you are going to cause a breach of the peace.”

Southern continued to push the issue briefly before conceding the decision and walking away.

“I perfectly understand,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned you have Sharia law here.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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