Racial tension sparked violence on Cronulla Beach in Sydney, Australia yesterday when around 5,000 people, some yelling racist chants like “No more Lebs (Lebanese)”, 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.
More than 20 people were injured and 12 arrested.
Police said a group of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists stirred on the drunken crowd at Cronulla.
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.
“Arab Australians have had to cope with vilification, racism, abuse and fear of a racial backlash for a number of years, but these riots will take that fear to a new level,” said Australian Arabic Council chairman Roland Jabbour.