A petrol-bomb attack on a community centre has prompted fears among Melbourne’s Alevi population they could be targeted with more violence on religious grounds.
Glass bottles containing petrol and set alight were thrown at the front and rear doors of the Alevi Community Council of Australia centre in North Coburg overnight.
No one was inside the centre at the time of the incident, but a centre spokeswoman said the building’s rear door was badly burnt.
Surmeli Aydogan, the council’s community liaison officer, said the centre’s users were also concerned to find notes pinned to the fence threatening Alevis on religious grounds unless they “testified” that Allah was the only god to be worshipped.
Ms Aydogan said the centre had previously received threatening phone calls, but had dismissed them as pranks. However, she said the attack with petrol bombs had left the council’s members shaken.
Alevi is a branch of the Sufi order of Shia Islam.
“We’re worried this might happen again, and what if this happens when people are here? That’s our main concern,” she said.
“We’re concerned about that as well because we have a youth group here, we have young children here, we have elderly groups. There are people at the centre every single day. It’s a cultural centre, so we do cultural things like reading poetry and dance and so forth.”
Ms Aydogan said the attack had stirred painful memories for some of the city”s Alevi population, many of whom moved to Australia after years of oppression in Turkey.
“We”re an oppressed group and we”ve been denied our rights in Turkey, but we live in Australia,” she said.
“We”re Australian Alevis now and this sort of thing happening here brings back memories, particularly for our elderly, of what they went through.”
Fawkner police confirmed detectives were investigating the incident.