An anti-Islamic group called Reclaim Australia is planning 16 rallies across the country on Saturday to be addressed by controversial speakers including a reputed member of the far-right Australian Defence League.

Counter-demonstrations are being organised in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and other sites by leftwing activists, who say people may attend the events – branded as "protecting the Australian way of life" – without being aware of their links to extremist groups.

Among the speakers at the Reclaim Australia rallies – the first nationally coordinated event of its kind – will be Cooma council worker Shermon Burgess, a reputed member of the ADL, which last year reportedly threatened to bomb mosques and murder Australia's most senior Sunni Muslim cleric.

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