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Monika, Muslims, Mosques and …. Irony

by Ray Dixon (a Victorian and not-a-muslim-basher)

burqa-3

Bendigo woman Monika Evers would not approve of the above – not in her town.

No Burqas for Bendigo is Monika’s mantra and sworn belief.

You see, Monika hates Muslims so much (or ‘fears’ them so much she hates them – same thing) that she lodged a VCAT objection against the Bendigo Council’s approval of a Mosque proposed to be built in the regional Victorian City of Bendigo. One of 432 such objections (from a population of over 100,000).

Monika also joined (or formed) a local protest group whose arguments against the Mosque  included such gems of genius as these:

 Opponents said the mosque would bring violence to Bendigo and the city would be overtaken by Sharia law.

 “If you’re Muslim and you want a mosque, go back to the Middle East. This is Australia,” one member of the public said.

The protest group asked what councillors were doing to protect the city from terrorism and accused the council of failing to consult the community.

Bendigo people own Bendigo, it’s their town, they have the right to say mosque or no mosque,” one person said.

“We’re not racists.”

But Monika went further than that and started up an anti-Mosque Facebook page, Stop the Mosque in Bendigo. Not surprisingly, the Facebook page contains very little about the actual proposed building itself but a shitload of anti-muslim sentiment and reports and commentary on Islamic matters from far and wide, none of which seems relevant to Bendigo, which has had an established Muslim community for over 15 years that has peacefully co-existed with the “owners”, i.e. with “Bendigo people”, you know, the real “owners” of Bendigo, got it? Read it if you like but it doesn’t make much sense or have any coherence – just a lot of hate speech (GD might enoy it though?)

So Monika trots off to VCAT and what does she do? Well, she applies to have her name suppressed because, according to her, she’s received “online death threats” and “fears for her safety”. What a surprise.

Despite claims by her advocate that “the alleged threats to her safety have led to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police checking in on her a number of times”, VCAT rejected the suppression application, saying there was a lack of credible information to support Ms Evers’ safety threat claims, which I guess means neither ASIO or the Police found any evidence of them either.

Oh dear, what does a true blue Aussie girl just trying to protect herself and her fellow Bendigoites from:

Sharia Law

Terrorists

Jihadists

Halal sausages and

BURQAS

… then go and do?

………………..

……………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………….. ?????????????????????????????????

Well she leaves the court in tears of course (under police guard) while attempting to hide her identity ….

 …. like this:

monika-evans-1 

Oh, the irony.

I’ll give the last word on this episode of anti-Muslim madness to a member of Bendigo’s Islamic community and to the Victorian Government’s Minister for Planning Matthew Guy (who is a Liberal MP, GD please note):

A member of Bendigo’s Islamic community said he was grateful the local council had decided to support plans.

Heri Febriyanto said the local Muslim community was growing, and has nowhere to pray or celebrate.

“We are also the local community in Bendigo,” Mr Febriyanto said.

We have been living here for more than 15 years, so we are same as the locals in Bendigo, we are working as well.

“So I think we should have the equality of rights, then we would like to live in harmony within the community of Bendigo.”

Victoria’s Planning and Multicultural Affairs Minister, Matthew Guy, has backed the council’s decision and criticised the comments of some of those opposing the application.

People making those kinds of comments are silly, I mean that’s not what we expect in this country, particularly on a planning matter like this, people should be respectful and sensible,” Mr Guy said.

“They’ve considered it (the mosque application) on its merits, it’s got through, if people want to appeal it they should, but it should be on the grounds of planning law and not on emotion.”

Thank you Heri – when did you get off welfare again? GD wants to know how (and why) you did that, you bludger. 

And thank you Matthew Guy. For a while there I was losing my faith in my fellow Victorians and was contemplating a move to Western Sydney Wellington, New Zealand.

We are ‘The Smarter State’ after all.

I think.

I hope. 

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37 Comments

  1. deknarf says:

    Poor Monika, she needs to move to Camden, NSW. There’s a lot more of her small minded xenophobes here. T’was the end of the world when Council approval was sought for a Muslim School in the area. Ultimately the xeno’s won and the school was rejected, although I suspect that the Council would strongly deny such an allegation. The ultimate irony. The Muslim community purchased a cemetery attached to a one of the local churches. Heaven knows what the Christians in the cemetery think!! Perhaps Monika could set up a Facebook page for them?

  2. Iain Hall says:

    I am fully faux horrified to find this post at the Sandpit Ray!
    None the less as I give you and others who write her an open remit i will have to wear it won’t I?

    OK the crux of your argument here is to suggest that those who are concerned about about the spread of Islam are either stupid or raving Xenophopes. Its a spurious argument really and you only have to look to today’s news that tells us of another Aussie suicide Bomber killing in Baghdad to realize that there is GOOD reason to be suspicious of the religion that inspires such barbarity

  3. Ray Dixon says:

    No more “horrified” than others might be to find the plethora of anti-muslim posts, I guess, Iain.

    Anyway, the “crux” of the argument is indeed that people like Monika (and the rest of the tiny minority of Bendigo that opposed the Mosque with their ridiculous fears & arguments), are indeed stupid xenophobes.

  4. Iain Hall says:

    Just answer me this Ray;
    Where is the money for this mosque coming from? after all the congregation in question is reputedly about 200 and they are talking about a build cost of more than 2 million…

  5. Ray Dixon says:

    Well I dunno, Iain, and it seems you’ve found a different report than the three I linked to – no mention of the numbers and cost in there, do you have a link?

    Off the top of my head though, I’d suggest the money comes from the wider muslim community. They have jobs, remember?

  6. GD says:

    Ray:

    Off the top of my head though, I’d suggest the money comes from the wider muslim community. They have jobs, remember?

    You’ve got to be joking, Ray. As posted on the Sandpit, the unemployment rate, from the ABS, shows that Muslim communities have almost twice the unemployment rate of mainstream Aussies.

    Here are some facts regarding Islamic funding by the Australian government.

    In the past two years, five Islamic schools have had state or federal funding frozen after allegations of financial irregularities.

    Sydney’s largest Muslim school,Malek Fahd, has been ordered by the state government to pay back $9 million after an investigation by The Australian revealed millions were funnelled from the school to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

    A former principal of Bellfield College, Sam Cannavo resigned as principal late last month over the management of the 230-student school, making a formal complaint to police alleging that up to $2.1 million had gone missing from the school.

    Bellfield College, in southwest Sydney, received $4.1 million from state and federal governments last year, meaning 80 per cent of its revenue comes from taxpayer funds. The school received an extra $2.2m in capital grants last year, and is eligible for the highest levels of government assistance available to independent schools.

    A builder hired by the school has also made a police complaint, alleging he was paid only half of the almost $5 million the school had charged for projects at the school, alleging the school had charged millions in fake invoices.

    Is it any wonder where the money for building a $2 million mosque for two hundred ‘worshippers’ in Bendigo is coming from? Clearly siphoned off from government grants for over-generously funded Muslim schools.

  7. Iain Hall says:

    Ray

    The group was maintaining the bank account to finance its objections to a $3 million mosque project planned for Rowena Street, Bendigo.

    According to the 2011 census, Bendigo includes Castlemaine, Heathcote, Pyramid Hill and Kyneton.and supports only 263 Islamic residents within that area.

    You do the sums but even assuming that the majority of the Muslim residents are doing OK in employment its just not credible to claim that they will be getting that sort of money “the wider Muslim community.” I’m to lazy to check back on my earlier post on this Mosque but the notion that the money will be coming from Saudi Arabia is ringing big bells right now. And I reiterate what I am sure I said then. Firstly its quite normal to expect that he who pays the piper calls the tune and if the Saudis are paying they will demand that it is the Wahhabi version of Islam that is propagated at this Mosque. Secondly there is the Kevin Costner “build it and they will come” effect which suggest that this may well be the thin edge of the wedge for Bendigo.
    Finally while you may feel that Islam is entirely benign and those who object are the ones at fault you do so by being willfully blind to both the nature of Islam and its history everywhere that it manages to get a toehold

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    Yeah right guys, here’s some news for you – there has been a large Mosque in another regional city in Victoria for over 40 years – in Shepparton. They have a large muslim community including Albanians (the first ones) up to Iraqis (the more recent ones). There are NO problems with muslims in Shepparton. None whatsoever. They are not “unemployed”, they do not create social issues or give rise to fear in the community. But a lot of Aussie born, dole bludging trash have made it one of the most unsafe places in regional Victoria in which to venture out at night.

    As for your rubbish about how it’s funded, well it’s a church, not a school so I guess how they pay for it is a private matter.

  9. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m to lazy to check back on my earlier post on this Mosque but the notion that the money will be coming from Saudi Arabia is ringing big bells right now

    Iain, I’ve run “Bendigo” through the search engines on both your comments & posts admin pages and I can’t find any post you’ve previously written on this particular Mosque. So perhaps your “Saudi funding” suggestion is a furphy?

  10. Iain Hall says:

    I did say that I was unsure of just where I heard it Ray but its the sort of thing that is common when it comes to the financing of Mosque building as this report in Fairfax Points out

    The largest donation, $320,000, was from the Saudi royal family. Other big donors were Libya, which gave $100,000, and Kuwait, which gave $30,000, says Adib Marabani, a founder of the mosque.

    Mr Marabani said a further $27,000 was donated to Lakemba by the then Libyan ambassador to Malaysia who, on a visit to Australia, toured the mosque and offered to pay for the carpeting.

    In frank interviews, members of the Sydney Islamic community discussed the development of their mosques and fund-raising that they say has been wholly focused on construction and community development.

    In fund-raising circles, Saudi Arabia is a five-star destination. The Saudi government first gave to Australian Muslims in 1974 – a donation of $1.2 million – and since then, some observers guess, about $100 million has followed.

    But the co-editor of Muslim Communities in Australia and a politics lecturer at Monash University, Shahram Akbarzadeh, said it was time for Muslims here to “cut the cord” from overseas funding sources.

    “Having a reliance on Saudi funds makes a community indebted to the Saudi [religious] line,” Dr Akbarzadeh said.

    Even if a particular congregation is currently benign as you suggest is the case with Shepperton how can you be so sanguine about money coming in from the Saudis and influencing the direction of the mosque towards the most extreme expressions of that faith?

  11. Ray Dixon says:

    There’s much conjecture about Saudi Arabia funding terrorism, Iain, and there’s no doubt that some elements of it are true – for instance, didn’t Bin Laden get his money from his oil-rich family, a Saudi sheikdom?

    Whether or not you can tie that back to the Saudi Royal Family (who are the Saudi Govt) though is unclear. Somehow I doubt the Saudi Govt itself is involved in funding terrorists to bring down the western countries who are their major customers. Also, they have strict laws AGAINST any such funding. You might be confusing splinter groups with State sanctioned funding.

    I don’t think you’ll find the Mosques in Australia accepting funds from the Saudi Govenment will turn into Jihadist terrorist cells wreaking havoc on country towns like Bendigo. Futhermore, I think you’ll find (well, you won’t find it actually because it’s kept under cover) that our authorities like ASIS, ASIO & the AFP do not turn a blind eye to any funds flowing into muslim communities from overseas muslim countries and monitor and investigate those sources very thoroughly. Any transactions involving local groups accepting money from overseas terrorist organisations would be quickly intercepted and banned. Charges would follow. Seems to be working, mate.

    So you have to look at the building of a Mosque on its merits, which thankfully our Government (our COALITION government) does. They don’t listen to these silly conspiracy theories and emotive arguments but, hey, maybe get in touch with Monika and tell her to lodge her VCAT objection on the grounds you describe above and see how that goes down with the Victorian State COALITION Government. And with Tony Abbott.

  12. Ray Dixon says:

    Oh Geezus, Iain, I’ve just noticed that the SMH article you quoted was from 2002 … a bit out of date, mate.

    Anyway, I’ve found another one from 2007 (also old, but not as old as yours) in which our Foreign Minister of the time (being Coalition Foreign Minister Alexander Downer) comments on this very subject relevant to a Sth Austn Mosque.

    What he says is totally consistent with my argument, ie that the Austn Govt and its agencies does indeed monitor the source of such funding and discerns between funding from the Saudi Govt (which it does not see as terrorism funding) and that from splinter groups:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Saudi-funding-for-SA-mosque-investigated/2007/01/08/1168104911288.html

    Federal authorities have investigated whether Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia had sought to fund a mosque in South Australia, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says.

    Mr Downer said there were concerns that a Saudi-funded Adelaide mosque could have become a breeding ground for extremists.

    “I can say that there have been investigations by federal authorities in Adelaide into funding for mosques from Saudi Arabia,” he told ABC radio in Adelaide on Monday morning.

    And by funding from Saudi Arabia, I don’t mean funding by the Saudi Arabian government, but by extremist groups in Saudi Arabia.”

    …. Mr Downer said there was no problem about building a mosque.

    “But … if funding for a particular type of mosque and a particular type of belief system comes from overseas and it is the view of federal authorities that this is aiding and abetting extremism, then an endeavour is made to stop that funding,” he said.

    So I think the good folk of Bendigo can relax and sleep with both eyes shut, not needing to fear that Mustafa from the local Mosque is coming to behead them anytime soon.

  13. GD says:

    So I think the good folk of Bendigo can relax and sleep with both eyes shut, not needing to fear that Mustafa from the local Mosque is coming to behead them anytime soon.

    As Iain pointed out, there are only about 200 or so Muslims living in Bendigo. So why build a mosque that can accommodate over 1,000 people? You tell us, Ray.

    Perhaps it’s because the Muslim community is expected to grow, as it has in Lakemba, Auburn and other suburbs of Western Sydney. Unlike your supposed ‘angelic, fully-employed’ Muslims of Shepparton, the Western Sydney Muslim community has a shocking record of unemployment and crime.

    The NSW Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad was formed specifically to deal with this increase in criminal behaviour such as car-rebirthing, drugs, extortion, fraud and drive-by shootings.

    Muslims have a higher birth-rate than other Australians. Couple this with the unfettered influx of Muslims in recent years and you have a recipe for Muslim population growth far exceeding other cultures.

    How is this good for Australia?

    How long before Shepparton and Bendigo are experiencing the same problems that Western Sydney is?

  14. GD says:

    France today

    Don’t think it could happen here?

    Here’s Paris a few days ago:

    Islamic immigrants have turned Paris into another war zone.

    It was better known for being like this:

  15. Ray Dixon says:

    why build a mosque that can accommodate over 1,000 people? You tell us, Ray.

    Why don’t you find out for yourself, GD, if you’re really that concerned? Get onto ASIO or the AFP and point this out: “Hey look, that Bendigo Mosque can hold 1,000 but there’s only 200 or so Muzzies in the area – they must be planning to import terrorists and I’m scared!!!”

    Look, you can use the raw 2011 census data as much as you like but obviously there’d be no need for a Mosque if there were only 200 or so Muslims in the whole City of Bendigo. Maybe the figure is wrong? I don’t know and I don’t care.

    As for your Paris example – they also had two world wars there so we better expel all the Germans from Oz don’t you reckon?

  16. Iain Hall says:

    Germans in Australia are not rioting Ray
    This sort of nonsense could easily degenerate into the same as we are seeing in Paris Ray

  17. Ray Dixon says:

    This sort of nonsense could easily degenerate into the same as we are seeing in Paris

    Iain, the point is that France (and Paris in particular) has been a hot bed of civil unrest (and wars) for thousands of years. Always will be. Same goes for a lot of Europe. When we see muslims burning cars in Collins Street (at the ‘Paris’ end), then you might have a comparison. And even then, I’m not seeing muslims in Paris do anything but a bit of typical French riotious behaviour – it’s not like they’re likely to cause much more chaos and mayhem than that. I don’t think the French are as worried about muslims as much as you are.

    Anyway, here’s my take on yours & GD’s ridiculous ‘Domino’ theory:

  18. Ray Dixon says:

    Here’s Paris a few days ago

    And here’s what Paris will look like in a few days time, GD.

    Do you think they’ll have cleaned up the mess by then?

    Yeah, those muslims have taken over, haven’t they?:

  19. Ray Dixon says:

    How long before Shepparton and Bendigo are experiencing the same problems that Western Sydney is?

    Only when (and if) you move there, GD. They’ll follow you, just to give you the shits. So please stay where you are – the rest of Australia thinks Western Sydney is the right place for you and the muslims.

  20. Iain Hall says:

    What a great target for Jihad Ray

  21. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    The picture that GD posted was of Muslims rioting to protest the Gaza incursion so you can’t just dismiss it as ‘everyday rioting in France. Further your whole argument that such things are part of the nature of European cities because its just not at all true.

  22. Ray Dixon says:

    It is indeed true, Iain. The French have always taken to the streets – right through their history. They’re a strange lot but they look a lot worse than what they are and those protests re Gaza amount to next-to-nothing in the scheme of things. So what? And there is no correlation to a Mosque being built in Bendigo.

  23. Ray Dixon says:

    To continue, putting up pictures of muslims in Paris protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza does not build a picture of Jihadists attempting to take over France, impose Sharia law and commit acts of terrorism on French citizens, let alone suggest this Mosque in Bendigo will result in such acts in Australia. It’s just a noisy and very demonstrative protest/riot that (oddly enough) we haven’t seen copied here, even though we have over 500,000 muslims lving in Australia. Which actually suggests I’m right that we do not and will not follow the Europeans, Iain.

  24. GD says:

    The French have always taken to the streets – right through their history

    Ray, these rioters are Muslims, they are not French. Just as in Sweden, which I’ve linked to previously, those rioters aren’t Swedish.

    Australia’s Muslim population is currently less than 2%. France is 5%, Sweden is 6%.

    At 2%, Australia has already seen a riot in the Sydney CBD, a youth rampage at Cronulla including destruction of property in neighbouring suburbs, all because many Muslims refuse to assimilate into the Australian culture, yet partake of the benefits.

    What will Sydney and Melbourne be like when the Muslim population reaches 5% of the population?

    Oddly enough, previous immigrants didn’t riot in the streets or trash private property in a rampage. Italians, Greeks, Hindus and Buddhists, a much larger percentage of the population have succeeded in not only assimilating into but enriching our culture.

    I have yet to see Muslims in Australia, Europe or the rest of the world enriching their adopted homeland. Wherever there is Islam, there is hate and disruption.

    Unfortunately, those Muslims who don’t agree with the more radical Islamic proponents are strangely acquiescent about the horrors perpetuated by the extremists.

  25. Ray Dixon says:

    these rioters are Muslims, they are not French.

    So those Muslims are not French GD? They’re not French citizens doing the rioting, they’re what?: Infiltrators, spies, illegal entrants, insurgents or Jihad footsoldiers on a mission perhaps? Why does France have such weak borders should be your query then, GD

    Australia has already seen a riot in the Sydney CBD, a youth rampage at Cronulla including destruction of property in neighbouring suburbs, all because many Muslims refuse to assimilate into the Australian culture, yet partake of the benefits.

    (1) A riot in the Sydney CBD? Really? How much destruction was there? How many deaths or injuries? Prone to exaggeration are we? Australia has seen far worse than that … at Soccer games!

    (2) Bullshit, GD. The Lebanese did not start the Cronulla riots. It was thousands & thousands of your Sydney bogans (marshalled up by Alan Jones) who cowardly attacked a handful of unfortunate Lebos who just happened to stroll into the area. They also attacked some Sri Lankans I think and anyone who remotely looked middle eastern or non-white. Indians too I believe. Yes, there was retalliation by some muslims youths in neighbouring suburbs but what do you expect? Cronulla had nothing to do with muslims “refusing to asimilate” – it was about race hate. Perhaps you should go find a link to some report that proves otherwise (I guess you would if you could but unfortunately ALL the reports will prove you wrong).

    I have yet to see Muslims in Australia, Europe or the rest of the world enriching their adopted homeland. Wherever there is Islam, there is hate and disruption.

    Really, GD? Why are you still living in Western Sydney then? Look mate, as I’ve said before, if you hate the country you live in so much (which you clearly do) you have two options:

    1) Become a vigilante and take ’em out.
    2) Virgin or Air NZ to Auckland.

  26. GD says:

    bogans..cowardly attacked a handful of unfortunate Lebos who just happened to stroll into the area

    ROTFLMAO

    Ray you’re becoming a comedy act with claims like this.

    a handful of unfortunate Lebos who just happened to stroll into the area

    I’m still laughing.

    Your argument that Labor was good for the Oz economy is equally risible.

  27. Ray Dixon says:

    Perhaps you’ve got a different report that contradicts me (and that you’re keeping secret from the world), GD, but this sounds pretty accurate to me:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Cronulla_riots

    Over the course of Sunday, 11 December 2005, approximately 5,000 people gathered in and around North Cronulla Beach. Early in the morning, people began to gather and impromptu barbecues and “partying” took place.[2][14][15] However, at 12:59, a young man of “Middle Eastern appearance” was spotted on the beach and the crowds began “chanting stuff [and] yelling out things” before rushing him. The man attempted to avoid the crowd by quickly entering “Northies,” a local pub, but the crowd forcibly dragged him out and attacked him. The police, having been in Cronulla since the early morning (including police helicopters and patrol boats), quickly intervened and resolved the situation.[2][3][14][15] A Cronulla High School teacher later claimed that the crowd had attacked the man after he had shouted “I’m going to blow youse all up”.[10]

    At 13:30 two women verbally argued with a small group; the police arrived and both parties left. However, an hour later, they again met and a scuffle ensued. At 13:45, another two boys from Bangladesh[2] were surrounded by the crowd, and had bottles thrown at them, with the crowd repeatedly chanting “Fuck off Lebs!,” with the boys subsequently escaping by car.[3] Chants and slogans such as “Fuck off Lebs!”, “We grew here, you flew here”, “Aussie Pride”, “Fuck off wogs!”, were repeated throughout the day by the crowd. The crowd also attacked the police by throwing beer bottles. Police vehicles were also prevented from entering the area.[13][14]

    Around 14:00 another three males were assaulted on the beach with the crowd throwing sausages and beer bottles at them.[3]
    Rumours had persisted throughout the day that an additional 600 people would arrive by train, mostly from the west of Cronulla, to join the crowds. At approximately 15:00 “two young men of Middle Eastern appearance” arrived at Cronulla train station with the crowd outside chanting “Fuck off wogs!”. The two men took refuge in the train. However, the crowd entered and began assaulting them; a police officer entered the train and cleared the crowd.[2][3] At 15:20 two separate assaults took place; one involved a crowd attacking a man of “Middle Eastern appearance” and throwing beer bottles.[3] In this case an officer intervened and removed the victim as they were both struck by the bottle. A second assault took place outside a take away restaurant; three men were taken inside the restaurant as refuge and the diners already inside were moved towards the back. The glass doors and windows were broken and those inside were moved outside without incident.

    Still laughing?

  28. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    Tiy have to do better than Wiki 🙄
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 62

    Case Study 4
    The Cronulla riots – the sequence of events
    ♦ Reporting period December 11-18, 2005
    ♦ Newspapers:
    • The Australian
    • The Sydney Morning Herald
    • Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
    Introduction – the daily coverage
    The series of events that became knows as “the Cronulla riots” began in December
    2005 with reports of the aftermath of the bashing of two volunteer lifesavers at
    Cronulla, a southern beachside suburb of Sydney. This followed ongoing tensions
    between Cronulla locals and visitors to the beach. On December 11, these tensions
    flared into what have been widely described as race riots, with violent confrontations
    between predominantly Anglo-European “Aussies” and predominantly Muslim
    “Lebs”.
    The Cronulla riots sparked a wave of claims and counter-claims about responsibility
    for the violence and, more broadly, about the nature of race relations in Australia.
    Cronulla locals displayed varying responses, with some claiming that it was “about
    time” and that the riots were about “respect and pride” by white Australians; while
    others expressed shame and fear. Some differentiated between those involved in the
    rioting and the Lebanese community more generally. This range of responses
    reflected a similar scope of reactions from the community more generally.
    Media coverage of the riots and their aftermath extended well beyond news reporting
    of events, encompassing a wide range of opinions from community and political
    leaders – including Government ministers and representatives of Muslim
    organisations – as well as numerous Letters to the Editor. The events and issues were
    reported extensively in the three newspapers, and the reportage presented a broad
    range of angles and perspectives.
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 63
    The reporting period examined began on December 11, the day of the riots, when the
    Sunday Daily Telegraph carried two brief reports on page 4. These articles concerned
    the aftermath of the bashing of two volunteer lifesavers the previous weekend.
    The
    articles made no reference to allegations that the bashings were committed by a group
    of young men of “Middle Eastern appearance”. One article referred to Muslim
    leaders, police and politicians pleading “with ethnic gangs and local youths” not to
    engage in confrontations or retaliatory attacks at the beach. The other referred to the
    increased police presence, intended to deter “expected trouble between Middle-
    Eastern youth and local vigilantes”. “Islamic youth leader” Fadi Rahmen told the
    paper that the Muslim community was opposed to violence and that while the beach
    had been popular with families for many years, many were now too frightened to visit
    because of the threat of abuse. Surfers and beachgoers provided the local response,
    emphasising that while they were proud to see and display Australian emblems, it was
    as a gesture of solidarity and not intended to be provocative. They also reported that
    confrontations between locals and visitors were nothing new: “It’s been going on for
    so long now, mainly between nationalities.” One stated that bashing lifesavers was
    “not the Australian way” and another said locals “resented large groups of visitors
    from the western suburbs because they trashed the beach and intimidated local
    women”.
    December 12 – first reports
    The Daily Telegraph carried the most reports, at 14, while the SMH carried only
    seven and The Australian five articles.
    Headlines
    “Race riots: our disgrace” was the lead-in header on most of the articles covering the
    incidents in the Daily Telegraph. One set of headlines clearly condemned the
    behaviour of the Cronulla rioters: “Beach riots shame Australia’s values”; “Alcohol
    and hate shatter summer idyll”; “Ugly descent into violent thuggery”; “Thuggish louts
    shame us all”. Others condemned the retaliatory violence carried out after dark:
    “Rampage mob moves on Maroubra” and “RSL Australian flag stolen and burned”. A
    few voiced the initial response of Cronulla locals: “Gangs are the problem, cries
    local” and “Happy for end to harassment”.
    The Sydney Morning Herald labelled the incidents “The battle for Cronulla”, with
    headlines including “Our racist shame” and “Race riots explode”. One of the most
    evocative headlines was “Thugs ruled the streets, and the mob sang Waltzing
    Matilda”. The Australian labelled the rioters a “racist mob” and called the initial
    attacks and retaliatory actions a “race war”.
    First impressions
    The articles reported that the rioters yelled racist chants, including “bash Lebs”, “kill
    the wogs”, “kill Lebs” and “go home Lebby scum”. They noted that the crowds also
    chanted “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” and sang “I am, you are, we are Australian” in
    defiance of the intended inclusiveness of the slogan. The SMH revealed that crowds
    sang Waltzing Matilda as they cornered victims and Advance Australia Fair as they
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 64
    attempted to overwhelm police. Two articles referred to a man wearing a handpainted
    t-shirt reading “Mohammed was a camel raping faggot”.
    Numerous locals were quoted displaying varying levels of support for the rioters and
    their attitudes. A number of young men and women involved in the incident clearly
    stated their support: “It’s about time we showed a bit of pride.” One volunteer
    lifesaver told the Daily Telegraph: “This has been coming. It’s not about race, it’s
    about respect and pride.” A number referred to specific incidents of violence or
    harassment they had experienced from young Middle Eastern men. “There has never
    been any trouble until the wog element arrived”; “This is not about being racist but
    it’s a bit of a coincidence that every troublemaker in this suburb and on this beach has
    been Lebanese”; “It is our greatest day. The Lebanese violence and intimidation has
    been going on six years … and we’re fed up with it”. Others were more forthright in
    their racist sentiments: “We are here to support the Shire and get these Lebs off our
    beaches. This is God’s country, and it’s time they left”; “My point being here today is
    to bash as many Lebs as I can … all I want is to belt them because they’re greasy and
    sleazy”; “I hate the Lebs … we just want them off our beaches”.
    A few differentiated between the Lebanese community generally, noting that it was
    “those gang members who come to the beach to make trouble” that they wanted kept
    away from the beach. Some pointed out that they were there to protest against
    unacceptable behaviour on the beach and it wasn’t an issue of race. One told The
    Australian: “I’m not saying all the wogs and the Lebs are that bad, but there’s a
    certain group who harass and cause trouble.” One local resident, Glen Steele, was
    widely quoted. In some articles he was identified only as “Steeley”, saying he feared
    retaliation by “the Lebs” if he revealed his identity. He insisted he was not racist,
    revealing that he worked with Lebanese people and that he only took issue with the
    gangs harassing people on the beach. He was also quoted as saying “this is what our
    grandfathers fought for … we don’t need Lebos to take it away from us”. Another
    local noted that “I don’t support the violence … but I also think that the Lebanese
    guys are going to think twice about coming to Cronulla now”.
    Other locals were shamed and frightened by the day’s events, many stating that they
    didn’t feel safe staying in the area. Three articles reported one lone man wearing a tshirt
    that read “I’m ashamed to be an Australian in Cronulla”. One resident noted that
    “it’s a sad day for Cronulla and … for Australia when the locals are behaving like
    pack animals”. Others expressed their disgust at the “Aussies” from outside Cronulla
    coming to join the fight. A few criticised media reports of the lifesaver bashings for
    focusing on the racial aspects of the crime.
    Un-Australian
    The first day’s reporting contained a smattering of assertions that various behaviours
    were “un-Australian”. The NSW Police Commissioner condemned the violence,
    saying, “I have never in all my working days seen anything as un-Australian”, while
    the Assistant Commissioner said the crowds had swarmed victims, shouting “vile
    abuse, in the most un-Australian way”. Politicians backed this sentiment, although
    they avoided directly using the term “un-Australian”. Premier Morris Iemma
    criticised the rioters for trying to “hide behind the Australian flag”, stating that “the
    Australia that I know … does not support [this] sort of behaviour”, while the Police
    Minister declared that “these actions don’t belong in Australian society in 2005”.
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 65
    Representatives of the Muslim community also noted that mob violence “is not the
    Australian way” and “I don’t believe this is the Australian spirit”. However, the
    rioters also claimed to be protesting against “un-Australian” behaviour on the beach.
    One man asserted that “these people try to stop our way of life … saying filthy things
    to our girls. That’s not the Australian way”. Other Cronulla locals condemned the
    riots as un-Australian: “People are going to hate Cronulla now. It has given us a bad
    name.”
    December 13
    47 articles and the first of many letters to the editor across the three outlets, with 13 in
    The Australian, 15 in the Daily Telegraph and 19 in the SMH.
    By Tuesday, the reporting had increased substantially in the SMH and The Australian,
    as the media attempted to cover both the initial riots and the retaliatory attacks that
    followed. There were extensive reports of particular incidents, with attacks carried out
    both by the rioting “Aussies” and vengeful “Lebs”. The Daily Telegraph began
    headlining the incidents as “race riots”.
    The three news outlets carried extensive reports of retaliatory attacks on Sunday and
    Monday nights by “Muslim” and “Lebanese” youths seeking revenge for Sunday’s
    beach riots. Residents and reporters were warned to stay off the streets as young men
    smashed cars, trashed businesses and bashed “outsiders”. Police attempted to control
    crowds that gathered at the Lakemba mosque, fearing further attacks by rampaging
    “Aussies”. Police failed to turn back carloads of young men who ventured into
    Cronulla, Maroubra and Brighton-le-Sands, destroying property and attacking people
    on the streets. Calls for revenge attacks went out via text messages among both the
    “Aussie” and “Arab” communities.
    The Prime Minister’s response was widely reported, as he stated: “I do not accept
    there is underlying racism in this country. I have always taken a more optimistic view
    of the character of the Australian people … Attacking people on the basis of their
    race, their appearance, their ethnicity is totally unacceptable and should be repudiated
    by all Australians irrespective of their own backgrounds and their politics.”
    The response from a variety of community leaders was also reported across the three
    media outlets. Various government ministers and politicians were quoted in The
    Australian, responding to the events. Federal Liberal MP Bruce Baird commented that
    tensions between Lebanese visitors to Cronulla beaches and the local community had
    been building since September 11 and the Bali bombings, and the highly publicised
    gang-rape cases. Opposition leader Kim Beazley also rejected the notion of
    widespread inherent racism in Australia and commented that the core values of
    Australia are “respect for each other and respect for the rule of law”. Victorian
    Premier Steve Bracks said he would do whatever was necessary to ensure the riots did
    not spread to Victoria, and commented that the behaviour “is not what we understand
    Australia is all about”. The reports noted Mr Bracks “is of Lebanese descent”. Greens
    Senator Bob Brown asserted that the PM’s failure to take a tough stance on racism,
    and his mismanagement of immigration, had “mired the issue of racism in Australia”.
    Democrats spokesman Andrew Bartlett condemned the riots as “mindless racism
    cloaked as … nationalism”, and NSW MLC and One Nation member David Oldfield
    blamed the riots on the “failed … social policy of multiculturalism” and called for an
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 66
    alternative approach that highlights “the principles of unity given by a single national
    identity”.
    Representatives from Australia’s Islamic and Arabic communities were also widely
    quoted in reporting by The Australian. Waleed Aly, from the Islamic Council of
    Victoria, commented that it was less likely Melbourne would experience a similar
    incident, as it lacked the segregated racial enclaves of Sydney. Randa Kattan, from the
    Arab Australia Council, noted that tensions between Cronulla locals and visitors had
    been magnified by inflammatory rhetoric in the media, and questioned why “shock
    jocks inciting racial hatred aren’t prosecuted”. AAC chairman Roland Jabbour
    commented that the incidents “typify an ugly and fringe element of Australian
    society” and noted that the events would increase the racism, abuse and fear that the
    Australian Arab community already cope with. President of the Islamic Friendship
    Association Keysar Trad commented that tensions had been ongoing for many years
    and criticised the use of “ethnic descriptors” in media reporting and discussion of
    social conflicts. “Lebanese youth leader” Fadi Rahman said the riots had revealed that
    the Lebanese community had never been truly accepted in Australia: “We’re working
    night and day to build bridges and what we always get is rejection …” He feared that
    revenge attacks would escalate as the “racial vendetta” continued. The Sydney
    Morning Herald headed to Lakemba to seek reactions from Lebanese Australians.
    Isak Amouri revealed that he and his friends had been very upset by the events,
    asserting that “we’re all brothers here… the beach is for everyone”. Fifty-year-old
    Abdul Darwich noted that he had lived in Australia longer than most of the rioters had
    been alive. He felt the conflict was about youth cultures: “It’s kids… young people.
    Not Lebanese, not Australian. I don’t like to hear that – they’re all Australian.”
    The Daily Telegraph reported that “Muslim youth spokesman” and member of the
    Muslim Community Reference Group assembled by the Federal Government,
    Mustafa Kara-Ali, agreed that the riots did not mean there was “a racist underbelly in
    our community” and blamed white supremacist groups for promoting violence. In the
    same article, the coach of the Cronulla Sharks Rugby team called for calm,
    commenting that while the problems on the beach needed to be addressed, “an eye for
    an eye mentality won’t solve anything”. Cronulla locals quoted in the SMH asserted
    that the incident was inevitable and “everyone knew it was coming” because locals
    were frustrated with outsiders invading their territory, and were protesting against
    “crimes against ordinary Australians”. Other locals condemned the behaviour and
    noted that “there is an underlying culture of covert racism” in the Cronulla
    community where “just about everyone is a white Aussie”. The Australian and the
    Daily Telegraph reported on “peace talks” between the Maroubra surf gang “the Bra
    Boys” and Muslim and Lebanese community leaders, who were attempting to reduce
    tensions and demonstrate that the different communities could work together
    constructively.
    December 14 & 15
    By this point The Australian was providing the heaviest coverage, with 25 articles
    over the two days, while the Daily Telegraph carried 15, and the SMH published only
    five articles each day.
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 67
    Repairing the damage
    The three media outlets reported on the second meeting that took place between the
    Maroubra surf gang, the rival Comancheros gang, and Lebanese community leaders,
    in a further attempt to ease tensions and demonstrate cooperation between the groups.
    “Ringleaders” involved in Sunday’s beach riot apologised to the Muslim community,
    expressing their regret and shame that what was intended to be a peaceful protest had
    transformed into a racial war. The public apologies were accepted by representatives
    from United Muslims of Australia. The Daily Telegraph included a photo of the
    meeting between a Cronulla local and the young Middle Eastern man that he and
    another local had rescued from the rioting mob on Sunday. The paper also revealed
    that the NSW Education Department had sent directives to all school principals,
    referring to the responsibility of schools in condemning racism and promoting cultural
    diversity.
    Cronulla reactions
    The Daily Telegraph reported that some Cronulla locals had temporarily abandoned
    their homes, while others had barricaded themselves indoors, fearful of further
    revenge attacks and retaliatory rioting in their suburb. They expressed their anger and
    sorrow about the changes wrought on their suburb and a few revealed they were
    thinking of moving away altogether. One young woman summed up residents’
    feelings, saying: “I don’t want to live in fear … I want my freedom back.” The Sydney
    Morning Herald published a feature letter from one local who condemned the
    “Aussie” rioters’ behaviour. Far from protecting the beach, she said “women do not
    feel safer. We are scared. We are sickened … Don’t defend our way of life by
    preaching hatred, violence and racial vilification …” Local surfer girls said it was the
    behaviour of young men on the beach, not their race or religion, that was an issue for
    them. They felt the “protective” response of the “Aussies” was just an excuse to get
    drunk and aggro. Surf lifesaving events at Cronulla beaches were cancelled after clubs
    expressed their concerns about sending members into potential conflicts. Cronulla
    lifesavers revealed that dealing with aggression and harassment from beachgoers was
    a normal part of their experience, but it had “been getting worse the past few months”.
    Muslim/Lebanese communities respond
    Lebanese community leaders held “crisis meetings” to discuss the ongoing violence
    being perpetrated by young men from their community. Muslim community leaders
    warned that the events could radicalise young Muslim men and encourage them
    toward extremism. Young Lebanese men revealed that they feared for their safety as
    they knew their appearance made them easy targets. One young man said the conflict
    was “not a religious thing but pretty much came down to the fact that you are a wog”.
    Community leaders condemned the media for focusing on the apparent race and
    religion in covering the violence and anger among “beach-going youth”. The Muslim
    Women’s Association called for parents to impose curfews and keep their teenage and
    young adult children at home until tensions eased. Lebanese Muslim parents
    expressed their anger and shame that the behaviours of young men who rejected both
    their community and religious values were creating more negative perceptions of their
    culture and community. Young men revealed that they snuck out of their homes to
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 68
    participate in retaliatory attacks, while others condemned the behaviour of their peers
    and called for people to “communicate and interact with those they might not usually
    talk to”.
    December 16, 17 & 18
    By Friday, December 16, the SMH did not provide any further coverage, except letters
    to the editor, while The Australian and the Daily Telegraph carried only four and
    three articles respectively. All three outlets provided more substantial coverage, with
    many opinion and analysis pieces, in their weekend editions.
    Lockdown
    As the following weekend approached, reports detailed the increased police presence
    being deployed to deter further violence. All three outlets reported that NSW police
    would deploy more than 1000 extra officers around Cronulla, with one officer
    referring to the operation as “a shock and awe campaign”. The extra officers were
    enabled by emergency legislation passed by the NSW Parliament after a request from
    the Police Commissioner. After previously calling for people to return to the beach,
    the Commissioner declared numerous beaches unsafe and warned the public to stay
    away, as a result of information that rioters were planning further attacks. He
    conceded that he would close Bondi beach on Christmas Day if it was warranted. He
    announced that police numbers had been further increased and that they would search
    cars and turn away people who did not have a legitimate reason for being in the area.
    His warning was reiterated by NSW Premier Morris Iemma, saying “it is a long-term
    fight to ensure that the hooligans, thugs and criminals who create trouble and disorder
    will not win”. The Sutherland Shire mayor defied these warnings and asked “honest
    law-abiding people” to return to the beach and “support those innocent business
    operators”.
    Repairing the damage
    The Prime Minister praised the public displays of reconciliation between the “local
    surfing community and Lebanese Muslim representatives” and was heartened by the
    image of Cronulla-based rugby players Jason Stevens and Hazem el Masri walking
    the beach together. He called for a “law and order” solution to the problem, stating
    that “now is not the time to wallow in generalised self-criticism”, suggesting instead
    that “in the long term we can reflect on whether there are some lessons to be learned
    …” The Daily Telegraph reported that Australian celebrities including Cate Blanchett
    and Jimmy Barnes had joined a peace rally at Coogee beach.
    The Cronulla surf lifesaving clubs announced they intended to undertake a
    recruitment drive aimed at increasing the ethnic diversity of their membership,
    following a meeting with Middle Eastern community groups. At a meeting between
    police, Cronulla community leaders and representatives from Muslim and Lebanese
    community groups, ideas for reducing tensions were discussed. Suggestions included
    allocating specific areas of the beach for surfing and soccer, and using “marshals”
    Journalism in Multicultural Australia – Case Studies 69
    from the various beachgoing communities to ensure young men refrained from
    antagonistic behaviour. The participants emphasised that policing was only a shortterm
    solution and that the Government had a crucial role to play in educating the
    community and engendering respect.
    We’re not racist but …
    Both the Prime Minister and the federal Opposition leader reiterated their opinions
    that Australia is not a racist nation. John Howard told people not to “wallow in selfpity
    … and self-criticism” but to “have Christmas and celebrate the fact that this is
    still the greatest country in the world”. He described the rioting as “incredibly bad
    behaviour fuelled by too much drink”, and assured Australians that “the behaviour of
    a small number of lunatics is not going to dent … the compassionate reputation of this
    nation”. Kim Beazley said he did not believe Australia was a racist country but that
    “there are some racist elements involved on both sides”. Community leaders
    condemned this denial of inherent racism. Uniting Church president Dean Drayton
    noted that “by refusing to admit that racism runs deep the Prime Minister has
    eliminated himself and the government from being part of the solution”. Treasurer
    Peter Costello opined that multiculturalism was good if it meant “eating souvlaki and
    dancing the Zorba”, but not if it was anti-assimilation. He also believed the rioting
    was not “caused by racism, but lawlessness can breed racism”. He warned that “if
    your loyalty isn’t to Australia, well, there may be another country where you feel
    happier”.
    On December 16, The Australian published an opinion piece by Keith Windschuttle
    which asserted that the incidents were “multicultural riots” and should be blamed on
    the “multiculturalist policies and ideas” that had created and ghettoised ethnic
    communities within Australia. Daily Telegraph columnist Joe Hildebrand condemned
    the various opinion leaders who blamed the riots on the failure of multiculturalism,
    arguing that blaming multiculturalism for alienating Anglo Australians was “a bit like
    saying ‘pacifism will never work because I’m about to thump you’”, and noting that
    this view allowed the rioters to avoid responsibility for their actions.
    Aftermath
    The Australian reported on attacks against members of the Arabic community,
    including extensive coverage on the Voice of Islam talkback radio program. People
    rang the program to report incidents including women being spat on and having their
    veils torn off and people seeking medical treatment after being bashed. Host Abraham
    Zoabi advised listeners to stay away from the beach over the coming weekend. Kesyar
    Trad revealed that the Islamic Friendship Association had received reports of people
    being abused in shopping centres, and the MacArthur Arabic Welfare Centre
    organised a community meeting after receiving reports of homes and cars being
    vandalised. Cronulla beaches were deserted over the weekend, with the Telegraph
    reporting that local businesses were struggling to stay afloat in what is usually their
    busiest season.

  29. Iain Hall says:

    The trigger for the riots was the bashing of those life guards Ray and bashing lifeguards is just a little bit more of a trigger than the way that you portray it as “a handful of unfortunate Lebos who just happened to stroll into the area”

  30. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, that’s way too long and the only point you seem to be making is that the Cronulla riots were related to the earlier bashing of 2 lifeguards by a (small) group of Lebanese youth.

    Yes that’s true – we all know this. What we also know (and what your report also confirms) is that the actual riots consisted of about 5,000 Aussie bogans (whipped up or incited by Alan Jones) going out “Lebo bashing” anyone who looked slightly Middle Eastern. And that the victims were (a) innocent (b) in very small numbers (c) in no way contributing to the riot itself.

    You have missed the point entirely, which is that GD claimed (or clearly inferred) the Cronulla riot was evidence of muslims failing to assimilate. Please … give me a freakin’ break mate, the Cronulla riots were an over-reaction by Aussie bogans and not in any way indicative of muslims.

    Btw, you can knock the Wikipedia source I quoted as much as you like but you seem to forget it contains citations – ie direct links – to the same articles you’ve referred to above.

  31. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    While I decry the riots as much as you do you always seem to forget the subsequent riotous behavior by the “Lebo Yoofs” the property damage ect now that was, as GD points out, a direct artifact of the gang culture in western Sydney.

  32. Ray Dixon says:

    Iain, this is what GD said:

    Australia has already seen ………. a youth rampage at Cronulla including destruction of property in neighbouring suburbs, all because many Muslims refuse to assimilate into the Australian culture, yet partake of the benefits.

    He was clearly blaming the Cronulla riots on Muslims while omitting the disgraceful over-reaction and wrongheaded indiscriminate riotous and violent behaviour of the 5,000 bogans. He was distorting the truth. IOW … he was lying.

    And I certainly did not “forget the subsequent riotous behavior by the “Lebo Yoofs” in other suburbs. This is what I said:

    Yes, there was retaliation by some muslims youths in neighbouring suburbs but what do you expect?

    Those retaliations were small fry compared to the actual riot and only prove that if you ‘go to war’ against a small group of innocent people, you can expect there will be reprisals. Human nature.

  33. Iain Hall says:

    Lets keep it in proportion Ray, Of the 5K bogans on a few were actually “rioting” even fewer were arrested and the damage from the “riot” amounted to SFA. and strangely enough there has been no repeat since which suggests to me that all combatants have , quite rightly, pulled their heads in. The Lebos have stopped trying to be so belligerent at the beach and the bogans have focused on more important things like getting stoned and drinking beer. That is a win for social cohesion right there.

  34. Ray Dixon says:

    Agreed Iain. It’s good to see you have a far more balanced view on this than GD does. The problem with GD is he takes events like Cronulla and uses it to support his clearly xenophobic and distorted muslim bashing. Maybe he shoulda just joined in the stoush?

  35. Iain Hall says:

    Ray
    you two make me seem very like Goldilocks , GD is very concerned indeed about Muslims in Australia and you keep insisting that its “no problem at all as long as we have AFL/we are not Europe*” Me, well I think that Islam is a pernicious ideology and that of its followers its only those who are nothing more than nominal or cultural Muslims who are really as benign as you suggest. The problem with your position is that the majority of the Muslin Diaspora in this country are not as benign as those that you have come to know personally.Those from the middle east rather than eastern Europe are a different type of halal entirely.

    *paraphrase

  36. Ray Dixon says:

    And the problem with your position, Iain (and with GD’s), is that there is next to no evidence whatsoever that our Muslim population (now about 500,000) poses any threat whatsoever to our way of life and/or safety. You need evidence to make accusations, Iain, and you (both of you) lack any of substance. Why else do you think that even your precious idol Tony Abbott is not anywhere near as concerned as you and Gihad Dee (GD) are?

    And I have probably met many more Middle Eastern Muslims than you and even GihaD have. We get plenty up here, especially in Winter (not much snow where they come from!) You see, I have this strange outlook, Iain: I don’t worry about where people come from, what they look like and what they believe in. As long as they don’t do anything that endangers or threatens me or others then what is the problem? Oh, and as long as they pay their bills and leave the units tidy.

  37. Ray Dixon says:

    Nearly forgot rider #2:

    As long as they are not bald & short cyclists with a propensity for stalking.

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