PM Calls for Religious Tolerance After Attacks on Lebanese Muslims

December 12, 2005

Source: Reuters

On December 12, 2005 Reuters reported, "Australian Prime Minister John Howard called for ethnic and religious tolerance on Monday after racial violence, spurred on police say by white supremacists, erupted in parts of Sydney.

Racial tension sparked violence on Cronulla Beach on Sunday when around 5,000 people, some yelling racist chants, attacked youths of Middle Eastern background, saying they were defending their beach after lifesavers were attacked there last week.

Violence then spread to a second beach, Maroubra, where scores of men armed with baseball bats smashed about 100 cars... On Sunday, mobs of drunken and angry youths, some draped in Australian flags, shouted 'No more Lebs (Lebanese)'. The mobs chased and attacked Australians of Middle East appearance, rushing onto a train at one stage to fight.

More than 20 people were injured and 12 arrested.

Arabic and Muslim leaders said the violence had been expected as Muslims had been subjected to racist taunts, especially since the Iraq war and bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali where many Australians were among the dead... 'Where this riot took place is actually the site of where we've got the Bali memorial for these women,' [Government politician Bruce] Baird told local radio. Asked if the riots were revenge for Bali and September 11 in the United States, Baird said: 'I think so.'"