Shock jocks helped turn the actions of “two hooligans” into a “race
thing,” an Australian woman of Lebanese origin told Crikey today. Alan
Jones “really revved it up.”

She inadvertently found herself in Cronulla on the day of the riots.
Cycling there with a friend, she says, “we didn’t realise it was going
to be so big.” Then we “got to the edge of the beach and we saw a sea
of people.”

There was this “massive roar” and then the mob started smashing an
Indian guy’s car. That’s something that wasn’t picked up on in the
media, she says – they didn’t even distinguish between people of
Middle Eastern and Indian background.

With the crowd shouting, “it’s punch a wog guy today” and “f*ck off
lebs” she “felt trapped” and headed towards Cronulla Station. Straight
after she saw the horde chasing the Indian guy, she saw four or five
“cops strolling past having a chat and a giggle.” They couldn’t have
been unware of what was going on but there was “no intensity” about
them. “Either they didn’t care or they agreed,” she says. “That pi*sed
us off the most.”

At Cronulla station, she says a policeman made her go back through the crowd rather than
cross the road to safety. He didn’t accompany her even though she was “clearly a Middle Eastern girl.”

The next day, in a very multicultural area of Sydney, away from
Cronulla, her teenage daughter was teased by “Australian guys” at
school. The feeling was that they’d won and they “owned the beach now.”

“It saddens me that the politicians that represent me condemn me not for what I
have done wrong but for being of the ‘wrong’ nationality,” she says. “A pawn in their game.”
As an Australian, she says, “it feels like I have the wrong features.” Just because I am
not Anglo-Saxon, “it feels like they don’t
represent me at all but resent me.”

MP Bruce Baird says that this is a response to the Bali Bombings and “I am told that because I am Lebanese it
is OK to beat me because Indonesians bombed Bali.” Mr Baird “cannot tell the diffidence between Lebanese and
Indonesians … we all look the same to him I guess.”

“It also makes me angry that when people are shouting ‘f*ck the lebs,’
‘lebs go home’ or ‘it’s bash a wog day’ the Prime Minister cannot see
this as racism.” That “worries me.”

There’s this “continuous whine about not assimilating,” she concludes but
then “children get beaten up and harassed by the Aussies.” So “you’re
damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.” And politicians and
shock jocks just give this mob more “fuel for their fire.”