Australia

Cronulla rally: Supreme Court bans Sydney race riot 'memorial'

Police restrain a man in Cronulla (11 Dec 2005) Image copyright AP
Image caption The riots saw shocking scenes of violence on the streets of the seaside suburb

The New South Wales Supreme Court has ruled a rally to mark 10 years since race riots in Sydney's Cronulla suburb cannot go ahead.

Police had sought an injunction against Saturday's planned gathering, arguing that it could stir tensions.

The far-right organisers of the rally were billing it as a "memorial".

Organiser Nick Folkes, leader of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, said the decision was an attack on free speech but that he would not stage the event.

Mr Folkes told the court he would submit to the "unjust request" to cancel the event and use the party's Facebook page to say it was not taking place. He also agreed not to address any public gathering that did occur.

The court said he could face jail or seizure of his property if he disobeyed the order.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Anti-Islam groups have held a series of rallies in recent weeks

Mr Folkes said instead, he would hold a "halal-free" barbecue. The party's Facebook page is advertising the event as taking place in the same site as the cancelled rally.

Police have said there will be an operation in place on Saturday around Cronulla in case of unrest.

In November, a series of protests were held across the country by anti-Islam groups. In some places protesters clashed with anti-racism groups.


Cronulla race riot: how it happened

  • Cronulla is a predominantly white community. It has Sydney's only beach easily accessible by train from the western suburbs, which are home to a large Muslim population.
  • A week prior to the riot in 2005 two surf lifesavers were assaulted, in what was believed to be an unprovoked attack by a large group of men of "Middle Eastern appearance".
  • Texts and emails were used to circulate calls for a revenge fight and a rowdy crowd of about 5,000 gathered on the beach on 11 December
  • The crowd turned, bashing two young men of Middle Eastern appearance, then running to the nearby train station after hearing Lebanese passengers were arriving.
  • There were retaliation attacks from gangs of young Muslim men.
  • Conservative Australian broadcaster Alan Jones was found to have incited hatred for describing Lebanese Muslims as ''vermin'' and ''mongrels'' in the lead-up to the riots.

Cronulla on edge as riot anniversary looms


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