A DOZEN police had to keep anti mosque protesters and supporters apart at an emotion-charged rally on the Sunshine Coast today.
More than 500 people - about 80% of them against the Islamic mosque, converged on land near the Stella Maris Catholic Church to protest the mosque plan.
Supporters of the mosque sang iconic Australian tunes, prompting outrage from a few of the anti mosque movement.
Streets around the protest were blocked off by police while plain clothes and uniform police had to repeatedly warn anti-mosque protesters to tone their comments and anger down.
An equally vocal contingent of young people defended the right of Islamic people to set up their own church, saying Australia was a democratic country.
But protesters accused the youth of being 'bussed in' from the Gold Coast with some even resorting to insults over their university fees.
The situation became repeatedly heated as supporters of the mosque tried to convince opponents that most Islamic people were peace loving and represented no threat to Australia's way of life.
Opponents, however, warned of beheadings, the introduction of sharia law, the loss of rights for women and the undermining of the Australian way of life.
Those supporting the mosque were told to 'go back where you come from' repeatedly by the more vocal minority in the crowd.
At one point police were booed as they ordered a protester to get down from a stage as he spoke of beheadings and his fears over a mosque.
Protesters questioned what happened to freedom of speech in Australia.
The crowd cheered as supporters lifted the man onto their shoulders so he could continue speaking.
Among those protesting the mosque were One Nation, Christian bikie gangs, opponents of halal meat certification as well as representatives from some local churches.
Both sides, not doubt, saw it as a sign.
Some of those supporting the mosque accused Christians of showing more hate than love while opponents said it was their right to defend Australia's Christian heritage.
One elderly man brought with him a Koran, challenging the young people to read it, asking whether they really knew what was in it, or what the Islamic faith stood for.
Supporters challenged the Christians to get to know more Islamic people, saying they would realise they were peaceful people.
Many protesters though voiced fears those setting up an Islamic church would be 'nice now' but would 'stab people in the back' before long and try to take over the community.
Does Australia have freedom of religion?
This poll ended on 20 September 2015.
Yes. People can worship how they see fit.
Yes, so long as its the same religion as mine.
No. I can't see a law saying we have that freedom.
No. Not in my back yard.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Church leader speaks out against plan for mosque
SATURDAY 6.00am: WHILE a Catholic priest has welcomed the idea of a mosque in Maroochydore, at least one other Sunshine Coast pastor will be joining Saturday's protest.
Benny Tan from HistoryMaker Church at Kawana has urged people to oppose the mosque as he warns it is "just the thin edge of the wedge".
Pastor Tan grew up in an Islamic country and says "don't allow apathy and complacency to rob you for your future liberty and dignity".
He posted on his Facebook page urging people to "wake up".
"As the old saying goes, this is just the thin edge of the wedge … you give them an inch and they will grab a mile," he said.
Pastor Tan said it wasn't about what Muslims believed, it was about "do we want Islamic prayers blaring all over the Coast five times a day starting from around 5am and finishing around 7pm daily?"
"They say they won't, but they will. Not now, maybe they won't."
This is in response to reassurances from the Muslim Organisation of the Sunshine Coast there would be no loudspeakers used for the call to prayer, as is the case at other mosques.
"That's just a ploy to win us over and because they are smaller in numbers. But as they grow in numbers and in confidence, you try to stop them then," Pastor Tan said.
"You'll be bulldozed over like dust.
"On what authority do I say this? I lived over 20 years in an Islamic country and have experienced all this firsthand."
Father Joe Duffy, the Maroochydore Parish priest, called for calm as tension between protesters was already running high on social media.
"People can protest and if Muslims want to get together and pray, that's their right," he said.
"I believe protesters are not objecting from a religion point of view, but from a political point of view. People are mixing the religion and political together.
"Anybody who comes tomorrow and doesn't behave in a calm and peaceful manner is denying Christ.
"I still think the Muslims have done the right thing. They bought the block of land in the CBD. Nobody can object to them praying according to the bylaws of the regional council."
The Anglican Church, which also worships in Church St, said the issue was a "local council planning matter that should not be confused with problems overseas".
"Australia is a place where religion can be practised freely and we should always support people in our community who want to live as good neighbours," the spokesman said.
"The best way to move forward as good neighbours is to respect each other, include each other, and work together for the good of the community."
The Uniting Church in Brisbane, who sold the land to the Muslim Organisation under the hammer at auction, explained the property was a "professional office space".
"The new owners can use it how they see fit," Queensland Synod moderator, Reverend Kaye Ronalds, said.
"The Uniting Church is active in interfaith work."
The Daily contacted Buddhist retreat Chenrezig for comment, but they did not return the call.