A week later, thousands rallied across Australia to condemn the racist attacks.
Ultrarightist groups, like the Australia First Party and its associated Patriotic Youth League, handed out inflammatory anti-immigrant pamphlets at the Cronulla rally. Throughout the previous week calls for Aussies to come to Cronulla to reclaim our beaches were sent out by text message and on talk-back radio. The campaign targeted immigrants from working-class suburbs in western Sydney who go to city beaches.
Attacks have also taken place on schools and churches in western suburbs. Hundreds of Muslims gathered to protect the Lakemba mosque December 12.
The media reported that in retaliation for the racist violence, youths of Arab descent drove into Sydneys eastern suburbs, smashing cars and shop windows.
The New South Wales state parliament passed emergency laws at a special sitting (session) December 15 giving police here greater powers. Cops are now able to cordon off areas for up to 48 hours, conduct searches, and seize vehicles and mobile telephones for up to seven days. Increased sentences for rioting and affray were also introduced.
The excessive police powers introduced are unwarranted, said Keysar Trad, from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, at a public meeting against attacks on civil liberties in Parramatta, western Sydney December 15. People from my community are still continuing to suffer backlash from the riot, he said.
A statement by the Communist League here condemned the racist violence, and called for the arrest and prosecution of those who attacked the Arab youth and for repealing the emergency cop powers.
In response to the rampage at Cronulla, thousands of people in cities across Australia joined United against Racism rallies December 16-18, initiated by the National Union of Students and supported by many trade unions.
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