Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Aussie Riots: Lebanese Australians isolated and angry.

Australia: There is merit to the alienation angle be it Australia or Paris Riots, but enough is enough, it is still an excuse. Immigrants or those who are born in the country and still practice beliefs or norms that are from the old home bear the responsibility to assimilate within the country.

"....Humphrey says world events have also contributed to the progressive stigmatising and alienation of the Lebanese community. "We have had this increasing association between international events and violence and the devaluation of [the Lebanese community's] status. "September 11, the Bali and London bombings particularly and the way our government focused on the politics of fear around security heightened the fear we were hosting dangerous people within. I'm not saying you can reduce events in Cronulla to this, but it's a focus for a whole kind of cooking of a sense of anxiety and uncertainty." Experts say that some Lebanese attitudes - including the attitude towards women - have also contributed to their failure to integrate more fully with mainstream Australia. Humphrey says that his experience interviewing Lebanese families led him to conclude that many have a "preoccupation" with what they believe to be the promiscuity of Australian women. "There's a fantasy about Western sexuality," he says. The ANU's Jupp agrees. "There is no doubt some of these young Lebanese guys have an aggressive attitude towards women," he says. "They get this from their parents: women in the Middle East are often seen as sisters, mothers or whores. "The daughters are very tightly controlled but the blokes do what they like. When they see girls on the beach walking around virtually naked, they get very excited about it." Michael Bitar, who plays a Lebanese hothead in the SBS television comedy Pizza, is unnerved by how closely life is now imitating art. The actor from Marrickville, in Sydney's inner west, says the gang violence and racial drama in the city's southern and western suburbs in recent days reminded him of Pizza. "After I did Pizza, I had people come up to me saying I was a disgrace to the Lebanese community, and I would just say: 'Fix up what's going on on the streets first, rather than worry about what's happening on Pizza'," he says. "What happened on Pizza, it's like people are trying to do it in reality." Fadi Rahman, a Muslim youth spokesman and president of the Islamic Centre for Research, says the disaffected core of Muslim Lebanese youth in western Sydney is caught in the classic social trap of high unemployment and low education. "These kids have got plenty of time on their hands and end up in large groups, feeling victimised," he says. "Unfortunately their parents are not highly skilled and educated and aren't aware of what the kids are up to. The parents can't relate to their children and they don't understand society and how it operates. It's easy for a young man to get away with lying his way through." Rahman believes many young Lebanese are taking their cultural cues not from Australian or Islamic culture but from African-American rap culture. "You see hotted up cars, big jewellery, the toughness, the talking and haircuts. If you speak to any of these kids, they're into rap and all sorts of things coming from black American society. "They're relating to being victimised just like the black Americans. "Once you provide a person with such a mechanism, they're always on the attack. They think they're being victimised and that justifies why they get into trouble."
The day I see a story where rap culture is said to help enrich and grow a group or country is when the world will probably spin off its axis. The other angle is to blame terrorism laws or the threat of Islamic terrorism is exaggerated and contributes to this.
"....Postings on the Muslim Village forum in the lead-up to Sunday's violent rally at Cronulla reveal a high level of frustration at the actions of some of the Lebanese gangs that have been accused of harassing beachgoers and bashing two lifeguards. One message says: "It is about time drastic measures are taken to put an end to these idiots once and for all, because I, like other Muslims, am sick of being tarnished with all this crap … The Lebanese community has suffered immensely because of these misguided youth." Another says: "These idiots need to be taught a lesson … Makes you wonder what type of parents they have." A separate posting indicates that anti-social behaviour by the gangs is not confined to the Cronulla area. It says: "I've seen it too many times at Bondi and other eastern beaches — I feel ashamed to be associated (with) some Lebs." Since Sunday's riot, young Muslims have posted messages expressing their fears that the violence will result in deaths. Other messages have attacked the Federal Government for exaggerating terrorist threats. "The sheer hypocrisy in the way the Government (has) manipulated the Muslim community in Australia for its own gain is being laid bare for all to see," says one message. "The artificial inflation of the terrorist threat has now been exposed, the Government has no choice but to not recognise these riots as being serious as it would put it in the precarious position of having to take equally serious measures as it did for the other so-called threat, terrorism."
Denying there is Islamic terrorism and blaming the government in the face of almost daily worldwide evidence contributes to Muslim groups not being taken seriously. It is seen as a sick joke by others when they read variations of the above sentiment.

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