Debate Rages Over Aussie Racial Riots

A debate has raged in Australia over the country's racial violence, with about 75 percent of Australians believe there is "underlying racism" in the nation.

Debate Rages Over Aussie Racial Riots

An opinion poll showed that 75 percent of Australians believe there is "underlying racism" exists in the country, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Thursday, December 22.

Asked if "there is an underlying racism in Australia", 48 per cent of respondents to an ACNielsen survey said they agreed. A further 27 percent also strongly agreed.

A new poll published in The Australian newspaper Thursday found that 44 percent of respondents agreed that the nation was racist while 53 percent said it boasted a tolerant society.

Both polls showed strong support for multiculturalism, defined in Australia as the presence of different ethnic groups in Australian society.

However, The Australian's Newspoll survey found that support for multiculturalism has slipped since 1997 from 78 percent to 70 percent.

Riots began in Australia when more than 5,000 people gathered at Sydney's Cronulla beach on December 11, after e-mail and mobile phone messages called on local residents to beat-up "Lebs and wogs" -- racial slurs for people of Lebanese and Middle Eastern origin.

"Law & Order"

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, however, said he does not believe the average Australian is racist, nor that there is underlying racism within society.

He maintained that the country's racial violence was primarily a "law and order problem".

Asked at a news conference whether Sydney was likely to see further violence on the beaches, Howard replied: "I'm quite optimistic that we won't."

"I really am quite optimistic that people will see that nothing is ever achieved by violence. Violence is repugnant no matter who engages in it, it is never to be excused and never to be justified.

"I would encourage Australians to enjoy their Christmas as they traditionally do."

The riots have, however, forced the cancellation of traditional Christmas carols and celebrations in several areas and prompted police to commit some 800 officers to 24-hour beach patrols for most of the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Seaside businesses have complained of lost earnings and Canada, Britain and Indonesia have issued travel warnings of possible further unrest.

Social experts have blamed the Australian government policies of alienation and ignorance of ethnic minorities and the draconian anti-terror legislation for violence in the country.


Since the riots, the rate of harassment has remarkably increased against people of Middle Eastern appearance, said the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board.

It said that it had received 42 complaints since December 12.

"People who are thought to be of Middle-Eastern background are being harassed in the workplace and abused in shops and restaurants," board president Stepan Kerkyasharian said.

The riots were sparked by the beating of two volunteer lifesavers by Lebanese-Australian youths on the southern beach of Cronulla.

Cronulla's mainly white residents gathered on the beach on December 11, to "claim back" the sands from the ethnic-Lebanese after calls to engage in some "Leb (Lebanese) and wog" beating.

On Thursday, police said they had made their first arrest over the riots, charging a man for using mobile phone text messages to incite racial violence.

The 33-year-old man allegedly repeatedly forwarded a message calling for a gathering on two Sydney beaches, one week after the initial violence.


Source: & News Agencies

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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