Thursday, December 15, 2005
Now churches are targeted.
FOUR churches in Sydney's southwest have been attacked in 24 hours as the city's riots spread from race to religion.
A community hall linked to a Uniting church was burned to the ground early yesterday, carol-singers were spat on and church buildings peppered with gunfire.
In response, members of the Arab Christian and Arab Muslim communities have called for a curfew for all Lebanese youths over the weekend.
Police believe the attack on the hall, in the suburb of Auburn, was intended to destroy the Uniting church next door, while nearby StThomas's Anglican Church, which has a primarily Chinese congregation, had all its front windows smashed. Three of the attacks were on churches within minutes of each other. The night before, Molotov cocktails were used in an attack on an Anglican church in Macquarie Fields in the city's far southwest.
Arab Christians have suggested the attacks on churches may have been meant as a violent attempt to "shame" the city's Lebanese Christian community into supporting Lebanese Muslims in the race-hate war, which began as a battle against young white males over use of suburban beaches.
Community leaders said Lebanese youths should not venture out after 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and should stay home all day on Sunday.
"Those who violate the curfew will be doing so in defiance of their faith, of the law and their community leaders. We are all united in opposing violence," Lebanese Muslim Association leader Ahmad Kamaledine said.
Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen welcomed the call for a curfew. "We must remember that it is first of all in the home that we learn to respect and care for others," he said.
"So I trust that all parents will join these community leaders in encouraging their own young people to exhibit mature and thoughtful respect for other people at all times."
Despite the call for a curfew, the state Government, police, community and religious leaders were bracing for a violent clash between opposing ethnic groups over the weekend.