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Riots broke out in Sydney, Australia, with cars being smashed and gunshots reported. Racial tensions continue to run high in the “land down under” ever since the Australian government broke up an Islamic terrorist cell, arresting 18 men.
More than 5,000 people gathered at Cronulla beach after email and text messages called on locals to assault those of Lebanese and Middle Eastern descent. About 30 people were injured and 16 arrested. This came after it was reported that two white volunteer lifeguards were injured in an attack at the beach, a popular destination for Muslims from inner-city suburbs.
A witness reported that, apparently in response to the beach fight, about 50 cars showed up in a neighborhood, dropping off men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, who immediately began to trash every car in sight with bats.
“People are standing around in shock, just watching,” said a reporter for a local radio station. “Every window in some cars has been smashed. Roads have been blocked” by police.
In another incident, 500 young men blocked the roads near a local mosque after evening prayers, in anticipation of another attack.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard appealed for calm, saying, “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 background and their politics.”
Australia, with a population of 20 million, has a Muslim community of about 300,000.