Hundreds of officers were sent to potential trouble spots after Sunday’s race riots on a beach popular with white Australians and men of Arab descent. Gangs of Lebanese men retaliated by rampaging through suburban streets and attacking cars and buildings.
Morris Iemma, the premier of New South Wales, said that police would pay special attention to places of worship and schools. “We have to be on guard for this. These hooligans will not destroy the fabric of our society,” he said.
Mr Iemma said that a 500-strong riot squad would be deployed to deal with racially inspired violence. He introduced new laws giving police special powers to lock down parts of Sydney and search and confiscate vehicles, a move aimed at ending “smash and bash” raids involving carloads of youths of Middle Eastern origin.
Yesterday’s fire in a church hall next to an Islamic centre in the suburb of Macquarie Fields, and an incident at a primary school in Auburn where parents were abused at a carol concert and shots fired into cars, represents a dangerous escalation of this week’s unrest. Police could not confirm if the fire was linked to the violence.
Peace talks were held between representatives of Middle Eastern communities and surf groups in the beachside suburb of Cronulla, where last weekend’s running battles began. They issued a joint declaration calling for an end to the clashes. Sources insisted that there were no ringleaders organising the violence and said that text messages were being sent urging an end to it.
Brad Whittaker, a local surfer, apologised for the behaviour of some white Australians last Sunday. “The day began as a show of solidarity against behaviour of ethnic gangs that have been harassing the public on our beaches over a period of seven years,” he explained. “It escalated out of control under the influence of right-wing racists from outside this community and alcohol.”
Representatives of the wider Arab community called for a weekend curfew to stop further racial violence. Parents were urged to keep their children at home after 9pm on Friday and Saturday and all day Sunday.
Elie Nassif, of the Lebanese Community Council, said that the measures would help to ease tensions. “We have to protect Australia no matter whether you’re born here or you come from overseas.”
My comment: It’s curious, note that nothing is said about the state in which the Church is anow, who burned it, or was suspected of having burned it. I wonder what would have happened if the white racists would have stormed into a mosque and burned it. Ooh, and very curious what this “representant” of the Lebanes Comunity says: one should ask what Asutralia they want to protect. I do not think I would like Australia to become a place where someone could ask you, if you’re a woman/girl, “are you a virgin?”, just because being in bathing costume…. And that surfer has summed up very well the situation: they have been harrasing the population for ¡¡¡SEVEN YEARS!!! My goodness. And then the police said they were not detaining this people, to prevent them to begin riots.