Australians shocked as race riots erupt again in Sydney

By Mike Corder in Sydney 
Published: 13 December 2005

Violence on the streets of Sydney spilled into a
second night as scores of people drove through
beachside suburbs smashing windows of shops, homes and

Any hopes that Sunday's race riot was an isolated
incident were shattered when car-loads of people
rampaged through southeast Sydney, chased by police

Paul Bugden, a spokesman for New South Wales Police,
said yesterday's violence broke out in Cronulla, where
Sunday's riots also started. "We have shops damaged at
Caringbah, cars damaged at Cronulla. We have six
arrests at this stage," he said.

One person was hit with a rock outside Cronulla police
station, Mr Bugden said, adding that people riding in
more than 20 cars were involved in the
violence.Yesterday's rioting was clearly linked to
Sunday's rampage, he said.

On Sunday, 5,000 white men, many of them drunk,
attacked men they believed were of Middle Eastern
descent in retaliation for the assault a week earlier
of two lifeguards, allegedly by youths of Lebanese

Police arrested 16 rioters and said 31 people were
injured, including a man stabbed by an assailant who
police officers said had an Arab appearance.

John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, called the
violence "sickening" but said: "I do not accept there
is underlying racism in this country."

Television images of Sunday's fighting and of people
wrapped in Australia's flag as they hurled racial
abuse shocked Australians who pride themselves on
their tolerance and credit an influx of immigrants
with helping to build up the country in the years
after the Second World War.

Mr Howard said: "This nation of ours has been able to
absorb millions of people from different parts of the
world over a period of some 40 years and we have done
so with remarkable success and in a way that has
brought enormous credit to this country."

In the last census in 2001, nearly one-quarter of
Australia's 20 million population said they were born
overseas. But tensions between youths of Arabic and
Middle Eastern descent and white Australians have
risen, largely because of anti-Muslim sentiment
fuelled by the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United
States and the bombings on the Indonesian island of
Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians,
in October 2002. About 300,000 Muslims live in
Australia, many in the lower-income suburbs of large

Roland Jabbour, the chairman of the Australian Arabic
Council, said: "Arab Australians have had to cope with
vilification, racism, abuse and fear of a racial
backlash for years, but these riots will take that
fear to a new level."

Steven Dawson, who lives in the Sydney suburb of
Brighton-le-Sands, said a bottle was thrown through
his window yesterday, showering his five-month-old son
with glass "That bottle could have killed him," he

Horst Dreizner, another resident, said a car was
rammed through the front doors of his denture shop,
causing thousands of dollars of damage. He feared the
violence would escalate. "I think it is only the
beginning," he said.

Yesterday's rampage will add to the shock expressed at
Sunday's rioting, which police said was organised
through text messages and fanned by neo-Nazi groups.

Stepan Kerkyasharian, the chairman of the New South
Wales Community Relations Commission, told Sky News:
"What we have seen is something I thought I would
never see in Australia and perhaps we have not seen in
Australia in any of our lifetimes - a mass call to
violence based on race."

Christian leaders also expressed their outrage. "There
is no place in our free, democratic and civil society
for racist and mob violence," Sydney's Anglican
Archbishop, Dr Peter Jensen, said.

"We must look to the root causes of this social
disharmony, seek authentic information about them, and
then deal with those matters."

Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of
Sydney, said: "All people of goodwill should reject
the extremists in both camps and work together so this
is the end of major disturbances, not the beginning of
something worse." AP 


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