Carr fuels anti-Arab racism



SYDNEY — The murder of two people in the south-western Sydney suburb of Greenacre on October 14 has been turned from a criminal investigation into a new round of government and media attacks on Sydney's Arab community.

Following the shootings, NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr and NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney claimed Australian "civilisation" was being "dragged back to medieval standards" by "urban terrorists".

Carr issued this public warning: "Obey the law in Australia, or ship out of Australia."

At the time of Carr's statement, police were still unable to identify who was responsible for the crimes, let alone the ethnic or racial backgrounds of the assailant/s.

While Carr didn't mention a specific ethnic community, residents of Sydney's south-west believe his choice of words were designed to inflame racism towards the Arab community.

"The word 'terrorist' has become synonymous with 'Arab'", Rihab Charida, Bankstown resident and member of Sawiyan: Coalition For Palestine, told Green Left Weekly. "We [Arabs] are already portrayed in the media as 'violent' and 'uncivilised'. What Carr said fuels racism towards the Arab community."

Souheir Edelbi, a member of Bankstown Books Not Bombs, also has serious concerns about Carr's comments, "What is being questioned here is... the citizenship rights of all Lebanese, Arabs, Muslims and anyone who is an immigrant or whose parents are not white."

The consequences of Carr's comments are being felt. Charida and her partner Nic Hanna were stopped by a stranger on October 22. "If you Lebs can't stop shooting people, you should get out of the country", they were told.

Carr claims he never meant to tarnish an entire community with his comments. However, that is exactly what he's done.

From Green Left Weekly, October 29, 2003.
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