Monday, December 12, 2005

Race Riots in Australia

The fruit of 9/11, the Bali bombings, multiculturalism gone bonkers? Or of Bush's war on terror and the religious wars that are going on? Or of too rapid immigration of groups with too different values and customs? Or of plain old racism? You decide. You might as well, because nobody knows the correct answers. But Australia is experiencing something very similar to what happened in France just a moment ago: young men getting together to riot, and in both cases the planning takes place through mobile phones. The difference is that in France it was the minorities who rioted, in Australia it was the white non-Arab majority. But I'm thinking that in some deeper sense that difference isn't very large at all, for in both cases it is mostly young men who feel that their values are threatened who are doing this.

In any case, this is the sort of thing that happened down under:

A day of confrontations began at the southern beach of Cronulla, where 5,000 white youths, many of them drunk, wrapped in Australian flags and chanting racist slurs, fought a series of skirmishes with police, attacked people of Arab appearance and assaulted a pair of ambulance officers.

The violence was a reaction to reports that youths of Lebanese ancestry were responsible for an attack last weekend on two of the beach's lifeguards.

One white teenager had the words "We grew here, you flew here" painted on his back. On the beach, someone had written "100 per cent Aussie pride" in the sand.

Two paramedics in an ambulance were injured as they tried to get youths of Middle Eastern appearance out of the Cronulla Surf Lifesaving Club, where they had fled to escape one mob.

The mob broke the vehicle's windows and kicked its doors as the paramedics tried to get the group out.

TV broadcasts showed a group of young women attacking another woman. Her ethnicity was not immediately clear.

Days ago, police increased the number of officers patrolling the beach after mobile phone text messages began circulating calling for retaliation for the attack on the lifeguards.

Television images of the alcohol and hate-fuelled brawls sparked a string of retaliations in nearby suburbs with cars full of young men of Arab descent smashing 40 cars with sticks and baseball bats, police said.

Another man of Arab appearance was being hunted after stabbing a white man in the back outside a golf club.

And nearby, rioters pelted police in full riot gear with rocks and bottles.