*  ARTICLE  ONLY  *

 

CRONULLA RIOTS

11 December 2005

 

 

Cronulla riots: Lebanese Muslim gang behaviour incites riot

Martin Lehmann – 13 December 2005

The left-wing, politically correct mainstream media had a field day blackening Australia’s reputation following the Cronulla riots.

 
All Arabs unite as one, we will never back down, the Aussies will feel the full force of the Arabs. Destroy everything, gather at Cronulla December 18 at midday – spread the word. Together exterminate the enemy at Cronulla. Send this to every lion of Lebanon.Text message circulating amongst Lebanese gang members

Tension had been building for months as gangs of Lebanese swarmed on to Sydney’s Cronulla beach, jostling elderly patrons, abusing Australian families and threatening to “rape Aussie sluts” for wearing bikinis. They did not come to enjoy the beach in the Australian tradition. They came to flout their disrespect for Australian culture and for Australian law and order.

Matters came to a head the previous weekend when two young Australian lifesavers were bashed by a Lebanese gang.

Following a series of text messages, 5,000 Australians turned up on Sunday December 11, 2005 at Cronulla determined to “reclaim the beach”.

Unfortunately, the combination of alcohol, hot sun and a group of neo-nazi infiltrators turned the demonstration into a raging mob. There were disturbing scenes of mob violence and attacks on police and ambulance officers. 

Meanwhile the Lebs were planning a speedy retaliation. After dark, more than 40 carloads of Lebanese thugs descended on nearby Maroubra and indulged in an orgy of smashing car windscreens, jumping on car roofs, smashing shop windows and beating up anyone of Anglo appearance.

One man was stabbed in the back in a cowardly attack.

That evening around 100 locals of Punchbowl, New South Wales (a suburb 20 km to Cronulla’s north–west) gathered together at the local Punchbowl Park. Additional groups, armed with baseball bats, also gathered at The Promenade and Arncliffe Park.

The groups formed a convoy of “more than 40 cars” and drove down to the beaches “to get revenge” with many of the cars ending up in Maroubra.

At 22:45 the cowardly police command ordered police  “not to approach convoys of men of Middle Eastern appearance” however car details and registration details were to be recorded.

Lebs rounded up
Police subdue some of the Lions of Lebanon

A local of Maroubra reported that each of the cars that arrived was “full, you know had four passengers.” The convoy was reportedly armed with bars and bats, knives, machetes and guns. The group assaulted several people, knocking one unconscious and threatening another with rape, and damaged between 60 and 100 cars, setting at least one on fire.

Police in riot gear moved to contain the violence and the crowds responded by throwing bricks and glass. Residents reported that in some streets “every car” had had their windows smashed, with glass covering the streets. Police also confiscated 40 iron bars and arrested 14 people.

A 26-year–old mechanic dubbed “Dan” was stabbed in the back three times and twice in the thigh with a 9.8 centimetre blade. The incident occurred outside Woolooware golf club when two cars carrying a group of males “described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance” approached the man and his friends. Dan and his friends attempted to flee from the group who were shouting “Get the Aussie dogs … get the Aussie sluts”, Dan was knocked to the ground and was repeatedly kicked in the head. The attack ended when the 9.8 centimetre knife snapped off in the victim’s back.He was taken to hospital in a serious condition as the blade had narrowly missed his spine and lungs.

Jake Schofield was attacked by a group of four men of “Middle Eastern appearance”, the men beat Schofield repeatedly, stabbing him twice and hitting him with a piece of concrete before stealing his wallet and keys. The attack left him with a fractured eye socket and fractured nose.

How did the print media portray it? All the emphasis was on the “racist” attacks by Australians. Very little

Leb leader
Lebanese gang leader, Jeffrey Ismail was sentenced to 12 months jail for helping to organise the revenge attacks.

mention of the Lebanese thuggery.

I trawled through the websites of the mainstream media next day, including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun. There were dozens of pictures of the Cronulla riots but not one picture of any of the dozens of car and shopfronts trashed by the Lebanese gangs. There were no pictures of the Leb gang members, not even a picture of the man who was rushed off to hospital with a Leb knife protruding from his back.

The mainstream media, particularly the print media, are an absolute disgrace.

The journalists portrayed the Cronulla riots as “racist” attacks but the lebs orgy of destructions is dubbed a “retaliation” attack, totally ignoring the clearly racist insults, text messages (above) and threats by the Muslims.

The Leb problem has been simmering for years, but the journos have applied a Maxwell Smart cone of silence. People like ex-NSW detective Tim Priest have been warning of the dangers of Lebanese criminal gangs for years.

The night after the riots the detestable Ellen Fanning interviewed Prime Minister John Howard on Nine’s A Current Affair. In an incredibly biased piece of journalism Fanning desperately tried to get Howard to say that the Cronulla riots were racist and indicative of racism in Australia. Howard, to his credit was having none of it.

Even the electronic media refer to Cronulla as “race riots” and the Lebs violence as “ethnic violence”.

If the media had done their job they would have exposed the looming problem with Lebanese lack of respect for law and order months or even years ago and perhaps avoided Sunday’s confrontation.

It is no wonder that journalists are so despised.

Some time later, journalist Miranda Devine, gave a more balanced account of the incident, although she couldn’t avoid the racist slur, when she wrote on December  22, 2005 While the NSW police lock down entire beachfront suburbs, instruct stores to stop selling baseball bats, and apply the full force of the law to pasty-faced nerds with a taste for Nazi literature, they continue to cower from the real hardmen, the Lebanese-Australian criminal gangs of Sydney’s south-west who have ruled the roost in this city for at least a decade and now number in their thousands.

So when parents and children attending Christmas carols on Monday night, December 12, at St Joseph the Worker Primary School in South Auburn were abused and spat on by “young men of Middle Eastern appearance”, there were no police to protect them. Not even when the sounds of gunshots echoed inside the church, and parked cars were pumped full of bullets. “Police were called by a number of parents and the principal, but they were unable to attend because they were needed elsewhere,” said Cardinal George Pell in a statement.

The police were busy that night – Sydney’s mini Kristallnacht “night of the broken glass” – as carloads of men drove east from Lakemba and Punchbowl to systematically attack whole streets of parked cars with bats and machetes. Identified by police as being of the proverbial Middle-Eastern appearance – code for Lebanese Muslim, despite the fact many are second-generation Australians – they also stabbed a man, smashed a woman’s head with a bat, attacked another woman in a pizza shop and a man who was putting out his rubbish.

They were extracting revenge for the riot the day before on Cronulla beach when a protest against continuing intimidation of beachgoers by thugs described as Lebanese turned ugly and drunken racists attacked passers-by suspected of being “Lebs”.

http://australian-news.net/articles/view.php?id=118

8 July 2007

COMPASS: CRONULLA TO KOKODA

Summary

At the height of the Cronulla race riots a 16-year old Muslim boy climbed the local RSL club’s flagpole and threw the Australian flag down to his mates. They spat and urinated on it before setting it ablaze. The boy, Ali Ammar, was charged and penalised for his actions, and later apologised. His remorse was real and so touched RSL State President Don Rowe he invited him to carry a flag at the ANZAC Day march. All hell broke loose for a second time. RSL members were outraged. The shock-jocks had a field day. The offer was withdrawn, but another remarkable plan was hatched to allow the boy to say sorry publicly and to experience first-hand why the Australian flag is so important for so many: Ali Ammar would walk across the legendary Kokoda track. Compass had exclusive access to follow Ali’s redemptive journey. This timely story touches on themes of national identity, religion and history.

Story producer: ABC

Story

Thanks for joining me. Tonight we conclude our two-part examination of Australian patriotism with a remarkable story you won’t easily forget. We follow a young man who accepts a pretty tough challenge to atone for his actions during the Cronulla riots and we watch a gradual build towards his moment of truth. Along the way we find out why he did what he did and a lot more, questions that strike at the heart of what we Australians aspire to, at our core.

(ABC News Footage)
Reporter
A week of simmering racial tensions boiled over into mob violence today in the beachside suburb of Cronulla.
Man 1
“It’s our beach. Aussies’ beach. They can go.”

Narr
December 2005. Racial tensions flare up in Sydney’s southern suburbs. There were so many provocative acts, but one incident in particular would focus the anger of the media. A teenage boy tore down an Australian flag from the roof of the Brighton RSL, threw it to his mates, and burnt it.

Don Rowe- State President of the New South Wales RSL
Why would you go and pick on the symbol of your nation to do something that despicable to it? It’s a symbol of us as a people.

Ali Ammar
Thinking about it now it wasn’t a good idea. But, at the time, we just wanted to show how angry we were.

(ABC news Footage)
News Reader
A Sydney teenager who burnt an Australian flag will now carry one in next year’s Anzac Day parade.

Narr
But this offer of reconciliation soon became a catastrophe.

(Talk back Radio)
Caller 1
I don’t want that person anywhere near my flag.
Caller 2
Instead of peeing on the flag they should pee on him.

Ali Ammar
I felt like, did I hurt this much people? What I’d done? Like something so small but so effective.

Narr
Ali spent several months in juvenile detention for his crimes but, far from destroying his life, it set him on a new path, a path that’s helping him reassess his life, his flag, and his country. And now it’s about to lead him to the greatest challenge of his life, walking the legendary Kokoda Track.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Why are you here? Because I guarantee over the next ten days you’re going to hit the wall. Physically you’re going to get to a point where you’ll wonder if you can go on. If you know the reason you’re here, you’ll keep going.

Tim – age 17
I’m here because I want to know about Kokoda. I am really patriotic about Australia and this is where Australia fought off the Japanese invasion.

Aaron – age 19
The main reason I came over is to just challenge myself, learn about the people who fought for us. Just figure out what it was like for them.

Courtney – age 19
Don’t ask me why I decided to do it. I’m a bit crazy and thought it would be a fun idea.

Jennifer – age 20
I often represent Australia.

Narr
This group is about to set off on an incredible journey. They’ve all been sponsored by Australian RSL clubs who believe the experience could change their lives. Some are high achievers. Others have had a more chequered past.

Brady – age 19
The reason why I came on this challenge was I got voted in by the Wagga RSL Club. Yes, I was a hectic kid.

Tim – age 17
I want to see what happens when I hit the wall, If I can go through it. And if when everyone else hits the wall, if I can pull them through it.

Ali Ammar
Hi, my name’s Ali.

Narr
Ali is here as a bold gesture by the RSL, an attempt to mend some of the damage caused by the Cronulla riots.

Ali Ammar
I think I’m here to learn about Australian qualities and Australian history basically.

Narr
But none of his new friends know who he is or what he’s done.

Ali Ammar
And I heard that by the time this trek finishes it should make me a better man.

Narr
Over the next ten days the trekkers will experience a real test of physical endurance, Heat, humidity, primitive conditions and no days off. A team of local carriers will look after the camping and cooking, but the trekkers will be expected to carry their own packs. It’s well organised, but no holiday. The Track runs from Kokoda to Owers Corner, near Port Moresby. It’s only about a hundred kilometres, but they’ll be hiking through some of the most inaccessible and punishing terrain on earth. The trekkers are expecting it to be tough. But what may not realise is just how emotional this journey will be. Because they’ll be following in the footsteps of an earlier group of young Australians, who found themselves here 65 years ago.

Narr
It’s 1942, and a Japanese invasion force has landed in New Guinea. Their aim, to take Port Moresby and be in striking distance of Australia. All that stands between is a small band of largely irregular soldiers. The militia. Ill equipped, and poorly trained, they’ve slogged for days over the mountains to meet the enemy at Kokoda. Over three months they’ll resist the Japanese. Their stories of determination, of courage, and mateship will burn into the Australian psyche to rival Gallipoli.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
This quiet, beautiful place 65 years ago was just a slaughterhouse. And yeah some men that the country doubted stepped forward, the militia, the chocos, they stepped up. And somehow, I believe, that these young guys we’ve got on the track, when they’re asked to, they’ll step up. And that’s all they need is belief, opportunity and belief. And that’s I believe what we can give them, both of those on the track.

(John talking to the group)
This is the Kokoda plateau, this is where the Kokoda campaign started and finished. Now, we’re going to follow the battle from this end as the Australians retreated up through Isurava.

Narr
Team leader John Nalder has walked Kokoda many times. He’s become an expert on the people and places that give the Track meaning.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The purpose of this is to bring the history to you, create and interest, and most importantly expose you to the opportunity to learn some lessons about your life.

It’s going to hit them from so many degrees. One, the physical challenge of it strips away the veneer of their day to day life. The people, the carriers, will touch them enormously, and that’ll touch them emotionally. And then the history. So it’s really three-fold. It becomes almost a spiritual experience when you combine those.

Narr
It’s a long way from what Ali’s used to – the suburbs of Sydney and a Lebanese Muslim upbringing.

Ali Ammar
When I was a kid growing up in Australia it was sort of weird, because I used to have different lunch to everyone else. And they’d have birthday parties and things like that, or just places they’d go different to us.

Hassain Ammar – Ali’s Uncle
He was a brilliant boy. He was a very polite, very active, brave little kid you know. He always jumped in front of you doing things. Top soccer player. When he moved to high school he started mixing with the wrong crowd, I think. Smoking, girls, and alcohol.

Ali Ammar
Always go out on the weekends. Go and have fun with my friends. Spend my money. Just to have a good time mainly. Because as a kid I was hardly allowed out and things like that. But, I dunno, sort of my dad’s upbringing was no friends, no going out, things like that. Like, when I was sort of caged in for that long I just burst.

Narr
It’s the second day, and the first big challenge, the hill that leads up to the new Australian Memorial at Isurava. Many of the trekkers are already feeling the heat. Teneil is the youngest in the group. She’s only sixteen and it’s her first big trip away from home. Brady, a tough, knock-about farm boy from Wagga. He’s seen a fair bit of life already.

Brady – age 19
It’s where my ex girlfriend stabbed me. With a butter knife. Oh just where me and a bloke had a puncher in there. He sliced me with a bottle. I got heaps, not good.

Narr
And then there’s Aaron, nineteen years old. And from a family of battlers. He’s never done anything like this before. And he’s really doing it tough.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Little steps, mate, little steps. Big steps take a lot out of you. Get into a rhythm. Nice and slow, gentle rhythm. And your breathing, breath deep. Nice deep breaths into your diaphragm. Are you with me? Let’s do it, nice and slow.

Narr
Like Ali, Aaron’s also had a troubled past having had a few run-ins with the police in his early teens. Now he’s a youth worker himself, wanting to pass on lessons learned on the track.

Aaron – age 19
Oh it’s killing me now, it’s unreal, but it’s good. Pretty much want to get right through it and just encourage kids when I get back, just to go through life one step at a time. Pretty much, for sure. Mainly just for leadership with a lot of the kids that I work with and stuff. Just so you can sort of let them know that life isn’t as easy as they think it is.

Narr
But John’s starting to get nervous about Aaron.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Yes, he’s battling physically. Mentally he’s still strong which is a good thing; he’s determined to get there. But as the physical deteriorates then the challenge is how his mental holds up, because at the moment, physically, he’s shot. Normally, I’d look at someone in that condition and say, no, not going to make it.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
My feeling, and obviously you’re a part of it, but we’ll make this decision together. I don’t think you’re going to make it up to the top, much as I’d love to see you at the Memorial. And the pain was just getting sharper and sharper over that last bit, wasn’t it? Tell me what you think.

Aaron – age 19
It’s not that I don’t want to go there but I just don’t want to injure myself.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
I know. It’s not a question that you want to be here. But it’s just physically we’re not going to, I’m not prepared to see you do long term permanent damage to yourself over what’s a goal that can be set again. Do you want to come with me and we’ll go over and let the group know?

Aaron – age 19
Yep.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Aaron’s knees have gone on him. We’ve made a decision. He’s going back. It doesn’t mean one iota less for Aaron. I’ve made the decision in conjunction with him and to go on is just going to cause too much damage to him. We’ve also made the goal to each other. He’s going to go back, do the work, get ready, and he’s going to come back and do it again. Now, we’ve had some really good people who have failed first time and they’ve come back and done it again. And in life, as here, no matter how many times you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up again.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
You’re now at a site that I’ll say is second only to Gallipoli. So really take in the words on those pillars, courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice.

Narr
At the end of the day’s climb is the Isurava memorial, dedicated to those men who fought a desperate and ferocious battle here early in the campaign with the loss of many mates.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
No matter how many times I’ve been here, I still choke up. Every time I come here this place chokes me up.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
I just want to share a poem with you. It’s called “What do you say to a dying man?”
“What do you say to a dying man
D’you call him Bob, or digger or mate?
As you look at the face you knew so well,
The look in his eyes says it’s late.
And you know if you happen to survive this onslaught,
They will surely ask you of his life’s end.
Just three minutes ago he was so full of life,
Firing his Bren from the hip.
The platoon attacking as it had so many times before.
When all of a sudden he’s hit.
And my best mate falls at my feet.
‘Tell them I tried’, he said.
My words of goodbye froze on my lips.”
Would you make him proud of that sacrifice?

Brady – age 19
I’d be fighting pretty hectic. I’d give it a go. Because I’d also be fighting for my mates as well as my country. Like, I have to say one thing. Hats off to them all. They’re soldiers. They’re good.

Jennifer, age 20
When I went up to the memorial and I was looking at the four stones I think “Sacrifice” is the one that jumped out at me. Not because it’s something we have to do but it’s our inheritance. It’s the boots that we have to fill. And I think that’s a big thing for us.

Ali Ammar
You’ve got to have courage, and not just that, if you’re going to see your mates dying around you because the courage isn’t there, it’s going to go back to mates. Like you’re caring that they’re falling out on the battlefields and things like that. And you want to show them that you can stand up to a force even if it’s that big.

(News footage of riots)
Crowd
“Fuck off Lebs, fuck off Lebs …”

Narr
Back in 2005, in the thick of the Cronulla riots, Ali’s own mateship and allegiances were to be put to the test.

Ali Ammar
And my mate came back with stitches from his eyebrow down to his cheek. That’s what made us really shitty. We just felt like we had to do something about it. We just wanted to show how angry we were.

Narr
On the following night Ali and some of his mates met in the car park at Brighton le Sands. Trouble was in the air.

Ali Ammar
When you are around so many people and that many ideas and that many thoughts going through your head and you’re in a situation like mine you’re not really thinking.

Narr
They found themselves outside the RSL. Ali’s mates pointed to the flag fluttering defiantly above the crowd.

Ali Ammar
Well someone boosted me up on the telegraph pole and from there I climbed up. And before I knew it I brought down the flag. As I came on to the edge people were screaming out throw it to me, throw it to me, things like that and then I just threw it down. That flag looked like the people that … represented the people that were rioting in Cronulla and going against us and things like that. We felt unwanted, we felt hated,

(Back on the Kakoda Track)
Trekker 1
“Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget.”

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Some of these kids have never been out of the city. They’ve never experienced bush let alone jungle. They’ve never been in a tent. It’s just so far out of their comfort zone. So I guess I slowly expand that.

Narr
Day three, and out of Isurava is a series of steep and slippery hills, where going up is exhausting, and coming down even worse.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
This is the wartime village of Eora Creek. This is where the wounded were staged. There’s photos taken here during the war and it was just a scene of utter confusion. And one thing that was very common throughout the withdrawal was that, people refused help. There was always, a very common one was, no, I don’t need to be carried, look after them. They’re worse. So there were people with horrific wounds who walked, people with shot-up arms combining with someone with a shot-up leg and together they provided the propulsion to get up and down this terrain.

Narr
And it’s not long before the trekkers have to cope another casualty of their own.

Brady, age 19
I dislocated my knee, yes. I was walking across a bridge and my boots were wet. And these aren’t real good for rocks and stuff. And I just moved the wrong way and it popped out. And luckily I pulled my knee back in the right way when I got back up and it popped itself back in. Straight across there, swollen, very sore.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The boys are going to bring the stretcher down in a moment.

Narr
Which makes Brady an ideal volunteer for John’s next demonstration.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The most critical part of carrying a stretcher is the lift. You’ve got a wounded guy in there so you’re not going to put any packs on top of him. In this case we’ll have Brady with his pack and that’s it.
So the person is in there head first here and feet down there.

Narr
It’s an exercise in how wounded soldiers were evacuated down the track.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Now lie in there and I know that’s going to be hard for you, you’ve got to shut up. Ok, Ali, there’s your casualty. Organise your people, let’s get ready to go.

Ali Ammar
I need two people on either end and.

Narr
For Ali, who’s been content to stay somewhat in the background so far, it’s a chance to pull his head up and make an impression.

Ali Ammar
So whoever’s the same height I want them next to each other please. Two at the back, two at the front. You two at the back and, hold on. Tim, you and Tim and Adam on the front. Let’s go.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The track touches them and you see a lot of them, there’s really only “I” in their life. And that’s it. And as the track affects them they start to look sideways. They start to help other trekkers, people they’re with and a bit of the selfishness starts to disappear. Because I work on the philosophy they’ll forget what I said, they’ll forget what I did, but they’ll probably never forget how I made them feel.

Narr
Back in 1942 the diggers absolutely relied on native stretcher bearers, the “fuzzy-wuzzy angels”. In impossible conditions, and at great personal risk, they saved hundreds of injured soldiers. John hopes that the example of those wartime angels will rub off on the trekkers.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
In doing the stretcher carry brings them together and starts to promote the teamwork side of it. And what I’ve done now is turned them loose and said basically go for home. So now I‘m watching to see who’s helping. And some of the faster ones I see have stopped to go with Brady which is good. Some of the others they’re not really caring what’s behind them and they’re really just going for home.

Narr
But unfortunately for Brady, what was a simple demonstration just this morning is now only too real. The tough terrain has finally felled him. The descendants of those wartime angels must carry him out. Brady’s trek is over, and John has got a few hard lessons for everyone else.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Interesting day. Since lunchtime I’ve seen some real true Kokoda spirit and I’ve seen some bloody selfish behaviour. Where people are locked on themselves and not even looking sideways. I’m not going to specify anyone, but as a group get your act together. Look sideways. It’s not just about you. Some of you were on one course on that last stretch. To get here as fast as you could. And there wasn’t a bloody consideration for a few others. I saw one person virtually knock someone off the track passing them, and not even a word, because they were in a hurry.

Ali Ammar
Every corner you take you think we’re getting there, but it just keeps going and going and going. And then I’ve hit stages where I just want to get there and I don’t worry about anyone else. And I know that was wrong.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Some of you displayed real true Kokoda spirit. Let’s get it right through the group. Come on guys, you’ve got the potential. You’re there.

I’d like to introduce you to a very special man. This man was a carrier for the Australian Troops in the Second World War here in Papua New Guinea. This man was wounded during the war, shots fired, he lost fingers. He spotted a Japanese ambush and he saved the lives of Australians by diving off the track. So he’s a very special man.

“Many mother in Australia
When the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
For the keeping of her son.
Asking that an angel guide him
And safely bring him back
Now we see those prayers are answered
On the Owen Stanley Track
Slow and careful in bad places
on that awful mountain track
And the look upon those faces
makes us think that Christ was black.”

He does this to me all the time. This is a very special man and for each of you this is a very special moment.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
One more thing, if you look at these medals on his chest, there’s not one from the Australian Government. They’ve all been donated by trekkers. There’s police medals from policemen that I’ve brought over. One policeman from Western Australia actually gave his bravery medal for me to bring back for this man. There’s not one medal there from the Australian government.

Ali Ammar
The way the carriers I think feel is that the Australian Government, not the Australian people, there’s nothing wrong with the Australian people, but the Australian Government have been short on a lot of things. Mainly just recognising. Recognising does a lot. Like it can change a whole country, just if you recognise them.

Narr
Two days later and the trekkers are more than half way. They’re heading towards the highest point of the track more than 2000 metres above sea level. The air has become cool and thin.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The high spirits of Aduri are starting to fade on the steep climb and it’s pretty quiet after a very noisy descent. They’ve gone silent. I think they’re more concerned about oxygen at the moment.

Narr
Ali has lately drifted towards the back of the pack.

Trekker 1
Someone just shoot me now … We’re the KT Boys, the Kokoda Track boys.

Trekker 2
Our paths crossed. Now we’re at the back of the pack, because we’re slow

Trekker 1
You know, when I get home I’m going to give my mum and my dad the biggest hug.

Ali Ammar
There’s nothing like family. Situations like this that’s when it actually hits you in the head. You know what you’ve really got and you’ve taken it for granted, taken advantage of it.

Narr
Ali’s family was shattered by his act of vandalism during the Cronulla Riots. They felt angry, shamed by his insult to their adopted country.

Hassain Ammar – Ali’s Uncle
Australia treated us very well. We were lucky to be here. We never are the type of people that you sort of eat from somebody’s plate and you spit on it as we say in a phrase.

(ABC news footage)
News Reader
A teenager who burned an Australian flag in retaliation for the riots will spend the next fortnight in custody.

Narr
When Ali was arrested he was already on a good behaviour bond for previous offences. He ended up spending seven months in juvenile detention, and it scared the life out of him.

Hassain Ammar – Ali’s Uncle
Nothing was getting into him till this happened, when he got locked up. He says that he started thinking things over and he sort of like, what am I doing? Why did I do this?

Ali Ammar
Well my burning the flag, I hurt many people. Basically families and that grew up under this flag. And war veterans and things like that. It’s not their fault the Cronulla riots happened. And me doing that, burning the flag, just cut em even more, like put em in the position where I was showing them hate. And as much hate as was shown towards us, why should I show it to anyone else?

Don Rowe
I think I was pleased to hear that somebody had been apprehended for it.

Narr
Don Rowe, State President of the New South Wales RSL, first met Ali at a Reconciliation Conference after he came out of detention.

Don Rowe
It became pretty obvious to us that he was remorseful in what he had done and was very sorry what had happened. And his attitude and the sincerity in his voice convinced us that he was fair dinkum. And he was a young fellow in the wrong place at the wrong time, and had done something really stupid.

(ABC news footage)
News Reader
A Sydney teenager who burnt a flag will now carry one in next year’s Anzac Day parade. The RSL says it’s an attempt to create something good out of last year’s violence around Cronulla.

Narr
So the RSL in a bold gesture of forgiveness, hatched a plan for Ali to march on ANZAC Day.
When the news broke that the flag burner would be become the flag bearer, talk back radio went wild.

(Talk back Radio)
Caller 1
We don’t want him to be a hero, we just want him to go away.

Caller 2
He doesn’t deserve to go anywhere near that flag. And to be quite frank with you, he and his parents and everyone else can go back to where they came from.

Caller 3
That young fella should realise he’s living in the best country in the world. Instead of peeing on the flag they should pee on him.

Don Rowe
There’s lots of people said they were going to spit on him and abuse him and throw eggs at him and kick his arse every time they saw him. That’s just not on.

Ali Ammar
I felt like, did I hurt this much people? What I’d done. Like something so small but so effective.

Don Rowe
It doesn’t help the cause, it doesn’t help any young person who respects and relies on the values of what Australia is about.

Narr
And so Ali came to Kokoda instead. Except this time it was all kept very secret. No-one except John knows about Ali’s past. But the thought of telling his new friends is starting to weigh heavily on him.

Ali Ammar
I think if I do there’s going to be a big difference on my trip here. Like people are going to be looking at me a lot differently. And maybe if they do find out, maybe one time when I put my hand out to help them up a ledge or something, I don’t think they’re going to take my hand.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
He’s got these barriers up because he doesn’t want to get hurt. And yes he’s going to risk hurt, but he’s never going to be able to really advance and build relationships until he takes that step.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
I want to pose a question to all of you. It’s a question that’s also a challenge. Maybe ask yourself in life, when the going gets a bit tough, do you immediately stop? Or would you push through it? Because what I’m seeing at the moment, is a group of guys, you’ve done some hard yards, but this morning for some reason, you’re stopping all the time. And what you’re doing is that you’re training yourself to stop, every time it gets a little bit hard. Now, nothing’s easy in life and it’s not easy on the Track but you’re not gaining anything by continually stopping. You’re actually making it harder for yourself.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
The lessons are touching him. The Track works on you whether you like it or not. And, yes, he is being touched. What I can’t judge at this stage is the depth of how far it’s gone.

Narr
By day six, the lessons are coming thick and fast. They’re now on their way to Brigade Hill, and the scene of one of the most devastating battles in the campaign. Here, a small group of diggers, against impossible odds, held out to protect their mates, knowing full well that they would die.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Sit there for a couple of moments with your own thoughts and think about what those young men, how they felt. How would you feel, and I ask myself this question, and I can’t answer it. How would you feel taking off your identity disc and handing my pay packet, knowing that I was going to my death?

Look over this area here. You’ll see a lot of indentations. That’s the remains of 62 Australian soldiers who died here at Brigade Hill. Are we living up to the ideals that would honour their sacrifice? In all of you I see such enormous potential. And the only thing standing between you and your potential is your thinking. We owe it to these men to achieve our full potential.

(Trek Group sings Advance Australia Fair)

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Thanks guys, I’d say you’re the first group who’ve had the courage to do it up here. Well done. I’m really proud of everyone of you. Well done.

Narr
Emotionally and physically battered the trekkers are sensing that the end is within sight. But the track hasn’t finished with them yet

Trekker 1
That rain’s definitely coming closer.

Trekker 2
What will your mum say about this, Ali?

Ali Ammar
Oh, Mate, she’ll sack whoever sent me. What can I do about it? I can’t tell it to stop raining.

Narr
At first the rain seems a novelty…but a few hours later, for sixteen year old Teneil, it’s no fun at all.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
It’s just an emotional, everything comes to the front, it’s just an emotional thing and the best thing for her now is not sympathy, but to push on.

Teneil
I want to carry something

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Now, guys, it’s wet, so what? We can’t control it. Enjoy it. Go with it. Let’s put it into perspective. This weather is what almost that entire campaign was fought in, day and night. No-one’s being shot at. So let’s keep it in perspective. Go with it. Find the positive in it.

That’s actually really good. They’re starting to encourage each other and work together.. And they’ve got to. The misery meter’s going to be right up with the rain. There’s a few of them suffering emotionally, they’ll need some support from those around them, but it’s good.

Ali Ammar
It’s up to the knees, soldier on. My leg’s stuck, give me a hand.

Narr
Day eight, and the trekkers are on the long climb up to Imita Ridge. Here, 65 years ago the Australians’ fortunes finally changed. They dug in, stopped the Japanese advance, and began to slowly push them back along the track. It was to be an Australian victory, and the diggers’ dogged determination and resilience would become part of our folklore.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
This is coming towards the top of Imita Ridge, towards the end of a very tough climb. You’re asking a lot of them both physically and emotionally here.

Come on John-o, push it through. You’re nearly at the top there. Good man, breath deep. Some of them probably don’t realise but they’re doing things now that, eight or nine days ago, they would have been bawling heaps on the ground. Here comes one classic case, Teneil. She’s just going so well. She’s pushing through barriers, which is fantastic. All she’s got to do is get back into life and keep doing it. Just your pace, your goal, you’re nearly there. Finish it off, great going.

Teneil
Thanks, John.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
I’m going to do something that’s been done by myself very rarely. This is coming off me. This is my father’s dog tag. He was over here. Only about four people have ever worn this.
(John gives it to Teneil).

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Today’s been a real breakthrough for quite a few of them. Ali at the front. And I said you stay here. He said, I’m proud. I said I’m proud of you for being here. He’s totally broken away from this comfort circle at the back and he’s come up the front and he came up there and actually pushed himself through a bit of pain which he’s generally been a bit reluctant to do. So it’s good.

And now I want them to, I guess we’re working towards the end of the trek. I want them to come out with a few things that they’re going to change. Because it’s only another couple of days and they leave me, they leave the track.

(John talking to group)
I’m going to ask you to think about something you’re going to leave on the track. Something you’re going to change. Something you’ve done in your life and think, no, that’s it. It’s finished. It’s on the Track, I left it. I’ll give you an example. I’ll expose myself here. While I’m looking at each of you. I’ve got no trouble doing it. The respect that’s grown for each one of you over the last eight days. Now, I’ve a great son, a great daughter, but sometimes I’m a real hard prick. And I have a bit of trouble telling them I love them. That stays on the Track. When I get back, I’m not going to be a trek leader, I’m going to be a father. I’m going to tell them I love them. No mistakes, no regrets. It’s on the Track.

Jennifer, age 20
I think when we first turned up at the airport and I saw everybody and it was, oh, no, I’m going to be stuck in the jungle with this load of people for ten days and I really don’t want to do it. And I think I was judging you guys without really knowing you. And that’s something I’m going to try and leave behind.

Martin
I’ve got the strength to say, I don’t need to look back, it’s over. I’m a changed person because I can do this track. Thanks.

Narr
For most of these kids the Track has weaved its magic. But for Ali, his fears are still holding him back

Ali Ammar
I’m just trying to feel the right time. Something I’ve done, but it will probably change their, I dunno if it will, but hopefully it won’t. Seems the way they’re going and that it won’t change their actions or anything towards me, but I dunno.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Ali, can I tell you something from my heart? Would you judge yourself harder than other people are going to do? No-one’s going to change the perception of you. They’ve shared an experience with you. I’ve seen you grow. They’ve seen you grow. Pull down the walls. These people are accepting you really good, but you’ve got fences up.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
It’s something in his life that he has to deal with. It’s an issue that’s boiling there and under the surface of Ali’s, his personality, of who he is. It’s almost, I’d describe it as a boil there under the skin and he’s going to have to break it and deal with it.

Narr
Later that afternoon Ali finally bites the bullet.

Ali Ammar
I dunno, just a couple of things I want to let out and maybe some of you would want to know. There’s things I’ve done in the past. When the Cronulla riots were on, I was part of the burning of the Australian flag, and that’s why I’m here today. I’m not here because this is my consequence or anything like that. I’m here because I want to be here. I’m here because I hope that people that see me going through what I went through and the mistakes I’ve been through, and me admitting and owning up to my mistakes will change them.

A lot of things and a lot of people have done stupid things at that time, and, I dunno, I’m just owning up to it. And I’m trying, I’ve been trying hard, actually, ever since I got out of juvenile, I’ve been trying hard to make everyone understand and to make myself understand and to keep myself out of trouble. Don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. And the reason why I didn’t tell you earlier was because I didn’t want you to get a different picture about me. I wanted you to know who I really was first.

And coming here, coming here I was wishing I get a better understanding, a better understanding of how you guys feel about things like this and what is Australia and things like that. Different races, different things, everyone’s got a different opinion about each other. Don’t get me wrong, there’s bad people in each community and there’s good people in each community. But, I dunno, I think we should just socialise more and things like that. It’s just not going to work if we keep hating each other.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
Pretty big of Ali to come out and say that. And I’ll stand beside him, so mate to mate, good to share it with you.

Narr
Ten days, a hundred kilometres of pain, and they’ve finally made it, together.

John Nalder – Trek Leader
You are less accepting of yourself than what these people are. You need to go out now and be a leader in your community. Help bridge the gap between our two communities. You can be a leader.

http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s1973902.htm

‘If I wasn’t on that train we wouldn’t have proof of Australia’s shameful violence’

WHEN photographer Craig Greenhill boarded a Cronulla train 10 years ago, he risked his life to capture the brutal bashing that shamed Australia. Here he tells Yoni Bashan about the story behind his iconic photographs.

“IT WAS a normal Sunday morning 10am shift. Nothing was happening.

The picture desk turned to me and said ‘why don’t you go down to Cronulla, have a bit of a stroll and see what’s happening’. I drove down and got there just after lunch.

Cars on the Cronulla beachfront. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Cars on the Cronulla beachfront. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Thousands of people flocked to the area. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Thousands of people flocked to the area. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

To be honest, I was a little naive to what was going on. I didn’t know what I was walking into but as soon as I arrived it was apparent straight away this was a volatile situation.

It was literally thousands of people on the beach front, flying flags, driving their cars, pushing shopping trolleys with beer stocked in them. It seemed undermanned by the police. It was out of control.

When there was a flare-up, it turned into a bushfire and took over.

Men fly the flag up a tree at Cronulla before the riots kicked off. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Men fly the flag up a tree at Cronulla before the riots kicked off. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

“It was literally thousands of people on the beach front, flying flags.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

“It was literally thousands of people on the beach front, flying flags.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

It seemed calm until some people with a bit of colour walked on the beach front and that was when the crowd turned and chased them down.

It was violent — bottles being thrown. The police had to rush in and protect the three innocent people on the beach and they were being chased. They eventually got past a wall of police to safety. That’s where the crowd turned. They got the smell of blood and the tension ramped up.

The crowd quickly turned ugly and began abusing a couple on the beach. Picture: Craig Greenhill

The crowd quickly turned ugly and began abusing a couple on the beach. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

“They got the smell of blood and the tension ramped up.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

“They got the smell of blood and the tension ramped up.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Police protect the innocent people from the angry mob. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police protect the innocent people from the angry mob. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

The couple were rushed to safety behind police lines. Picture: Craig Greenhill

The couple were rushed to safety behind police lines. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Tension brewed among the crowds in the morning. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Tension brewed among the crowds in the morning. Picture: Craig Greenhill

One person I remember most from the Cronulla riots, from all the faces and people that I photographed that day, is Sergeant Craig Campbell.

I’m pretty sure Sergeant Campbell saved my life on the train that day.

It was the middle of the day and the crowd was raging, a mob mentality had taken over and there was an atmosphere of pandemonium: people were climbing trees and walking around with their chests puffed out, chanting racist slogans; some guy had written “Wogs out of Nulla” on his body in black texta; fights were breaking out between girls out the front of the Northies Hotel; and the police had no control over what was happening.

Police had little control over the crowd. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police had little control over the crowd. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

People rushed to the train station after a rumour spread about a “pack of Lebanese”. Picture: Craig Greenhill

People rushed to the train station after a rumour spread about a “pack of Lebanese”. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

“The crowd was raging, a mob mentality had taken over.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

“The crowd was raging, a mob mentality had taken over.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

A rumour had made its way through the crowd, something about a “pack of Lebanese” coming into the area; suddenly everyone started running to the train station, even the people who hadn’t heard the rumour. They were just following the crowd. As a photographer, I did the same.

The station was only about a kilometre away and when us photographers got there we saw everyone looking for this “pack” of men who’d supposedly come in to Cronulla for a fight. Instead, there were just two lone Middle Eastern guys sitting in the upper deck of a carriage trying to keep a low profile. I think they were actually trying to leave the area and waiting for the train to disembark. They weren’t doing anything wrong.

I remember seeing people jumping over fences and the turnstiles at the station to get close to the action. I saw a few people hop on the train, hesitate, and then come back onto the platform.

Hundreds of people jumped the fence to storm the train station. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Hundreds of people jumped the fence to storm the train station. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

The Daily Telegraph photographer Craig Greenhill won a number of awards for his Cronulla riot pictures. Picture: Supplied

The Daily Telegraph photographer Craig Greenhill won a number of awards for his Cronulla riot pictures. Picture: Supplied

 

A few moments later the situation escalated when these two guys ran onto the train and made their way to the upper level of the carriage. I followed them and started taking photos, trying to get as far into the corner as possible to capture the scene. There wasn’t any time to change lenses or anything. Within seconds carriage was full of people throwing punches and bottles at these two guys.

In my mind I wanted to record what was happening so I kept the camera trained on it all, but after a few seconds I put the camera down and yelled out, screaming almost.

“Get the f**k off ‘em! You’re going to kill ‘em,” I yelled.

Thugs rushed into the top carriage to attack two young men waiting on the train. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Thugs rushed into the top carriage to attack two young men waiting on the train. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

The innocent men were beaten senseless. Picture: Craig Greenhill

The innocent men were beaten senseless. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

It became clear if I didn’t do something these guys would be in serious trouble. These guys were being pulled apart in front of me by a pack of dogs attacking their prey.

A few of the guys kind of stopped and looked at me. They sized me up and when they realised I was by myself and not a threat they just kept going, laying into those two guys.

That’s when Sergeant Campbell arrived, coming in old school.

The situation was just totally out of control and he responded in kind; his baton was out and he just charged forward, smashing everyone in front of him. I was lucky not to get hit.

“These guys were being pulled apart in front of me by a pack of dogs attacking their prey.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

“These guys were being pulled apart in front of me by a pack of dogs attacking their prey.” Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

This iconic image titled ‘Train Bashing’ won a Walkley and the 2006 News Awards Photograph of the Year. Picture: Craig Greenhill

This iconic image titled ‘Train Bashing’ won a Walkley and the 2006 News Awards Photograph of the Year. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Sergeant Campbell saved those guys and I felt like he saved me. I was the one left holding the evidence. Once the victims were incapacitated, I would have been their next target.

“Could I have done more on that day to step in and help these guys out? That’s a question I often ask myself”

Much later I gave evidence in court against one of the main characters who hopped on the train that day. A few of the photographers there that day were asked by police to hand over their images to assist the ongoing investigation.

Suddenly Sergeant Craig Campbell rushed into the carriage and beat the attackers back with a baton. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Suddenly Sergeant Craig Campbell rushed into the carriage and beat the attackers back with a baton. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Police quickly saved the Middle Eastern men from the attackers. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police quickly saved the Middle Eastern men from the attackers. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Tensions were high on the platform. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Tensions were high on the platform. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Police hold back the crowds. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police hold back the crowds. Picture: Craig Greenhill

My pictures from the carriage were used against one guy in particular, Brent Lohman, and he ended up getting a conviction. The same photo, which I called Train Bashing, ended up winning a Walkley Award for news photography.

It’s kind of ironic because, today, the Cronulla riots is used as an example of what photographers should not do in a riot situation.

Instinct took me onto the train, but, looking back, there was no escape route in that carriage and the circumstances were extremely dangerous.

 If the same thing happened today I would probably be breaking a rule by doing the same thing.

Of course, if I did that, we wouldn’t have a visual record of what happened that day.

 

Police line block the crowd in Cronulla. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police line block the crowd in Cronulla. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Police later arrested men of Middle Eastern appearance who were armed after their car was pulled over in Cronulla. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police later arrested men of Middle Eastern appearance who were armed after their car was pulled over in Cronulla. Picture: Craig Greenhill

 

Police arrest men of who were driving into Cronulla armed in response to the train bashing. Picture: Craig Greenhill

Police arrest men of who were driving into Cronulla armed in response to the train bashing. Picture: Craig Greenhill

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/if-i-wasnt-on-that-train-we-wouldnt-have-proof-of-australias-shameful-violence/news-story/43500de94f4f49ed72856ceaf74c8b31

 

The price of bravery

Updated

In 2005 police sergeant Craig Campbell fought off a pack of Cronulla rioters while defending the lives of two young men who had been cornered on a train. It cost him everything.

Source The Drum | Duration 3min 18sec

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-11/the-price-of-bravery/7022696

Generation Cronulla: How the riots shaped who I am

Opinion

Updated

Craig Campbell 07Ten years after the Cronulla riots there are still ramifications. I am no longer the frightened 14-year-old worried an “Aussie” is looking to fight me, but those events did affect my outlook, feelings and sense of belonging for a long time, writes Mohamed Taha.

I was shocked, disgusted, angry and confused as I walked into my school the day after the Cronulla riots. I was 14 years old.

Granville Boys High School was a great place. The students were predominantly Lebanese Muslims, followed by Polynesian and Turkish students. I was a warm, bubbly student – a “cool” geek that was just awarded the Dux of Year 9 weeks earlier. The staff were strong-willed and many students were a little rough around the edges. There was a ghetto-like subculture among some students.

On that Monday, tensions were really high at the school. The riots were the talk of the playground. A lot of students were venting about the media reports they witnessed a day earlier: images of violence, drunkenness, vandalism, offensive slogans and racism. Particularly the images of Australian flags draped over the shoulders of Caucasian men who were targeting anyone who looked remotely Middle Eastern in appearance.

It all felt incredibly personal for a lot of the Lebanese students, including me. In class, I recall hearing some students saying how their parents were “packing their bags” or how they would “bash an Aussie” if they saw one. My friend referred to the racist catchcry, “We grew here, you flew here”. One student joked, “Don’t worry boys, just tell them, ‘You came in chains, we came in planes’.”

The funny thing is we were all born and raised in Australia. It didn’t matter though, as many of us were angry and some wanted revenge.

The “us and them” mentality had overpowered rational thought with fear and anger. At recess, I saw three Lebanese boys pushing another student against the wall. When I got closer, I realised they were about to punch one of the fair-skinned Italian students.

“Are you an Aussie dog or not?” one yelled as he grabbed the student’s shirt collar with his other fist clenched. The student pleaded he wasn’t “Aussie”. I intervened and told them to leave him alone. I said he’s Italian, not Aussie and that he was against the riots.

My mum was concerned about our welfare and told us to be careful in public. Weeks after the riots, we were only allowed to go to and from school.

They stormed off. He was visibly shaken. I remember helping him stand and reminded him to tell people that day he was Italian, not “Aussie”. In retrospect that was wrong, but at the time it seemed like the only way to quell the anger.

By lunchtime, a text message had circulated among students that a bunch of white Aussie boys from the Shire were coming down to “punch on” with us after school. Apparently they were meeting us at Granville train station. I was shocked and a little frightened. I remember asking my older brother what we should do. He said we should do nothing but if anything happens, we will defend ourselves.

We lived in Lidcombe, which meant we had to travel east to get home, while the other boys travelled west to Granville, Guildford and Merrylands. This put my brother and me at risk of confronting the Caucasian group alone.

While I was worried about my own safety, others in the playground were turning to thoughts of battle.

“If they want war, we’ll give them war,” one yelled.

So almost 100 students, predominantly Lebanese, Arab and Turkish, gathered and went to the woodwork department. Many took pieces of wood as weapons. In the heat of the moment, I put a piece of wood in my bag. It was the first time I had ever given in to peer pressure, because I was genuinely scared I could be attacked. Upon reflection, I had given in to the “herd mentality”.

At the end of the day, like an army mobilising numbers on a battlefield, groups of students patrolled various parts of Granville train station and its platforms. It was very tense. Any person who looked remotely “Aussie” (fair-skinned and in school uniform) received a barrage of questions from hot-headed students. No such group came. The students went home. As my brother and I walked home from Lidcombe train station, I stopped at a local park and buried the piece of wood under mulch.

When we got home, we had a long conversation with my parents. My parents called for calm and restraint. My mum was concerned about our welfare and told us to be careful in public. Weeks after the riots, we were only allowed to go to and from school.

Ten years on, the riots still have ramifications. I am 24 now, but as I grew up the riots affected my outlook, feelings and sense of belonging. It’s difficult enough to navigate your way through life as a teenager with all the standard teen woes and problems. Add the complexities of racism, politics, media coverage and figuring out my identity and it can be very overwhelming.

I found my way by being comfortable in my own skin and I’m grateful for that. The moment I found peace of mind was the moment I embraced my mixed identity: I’m Australian by nationality, Muslim by faith and Lebanese by cultural heritage. I’m richer for it. It was incredibly difficult to figure out whilst learning what it is to be a “man” and how to be a “man”.

UK Islamic scholar Aftab Malik from the UN Alliance of Civilisations describes young Arabs and Muslims in the West as the “post 9/11 generation”. For us in Australia, I would add to that the Cronulla riots. One of the ugliest episodes in recent Australian history didn’t happen in a vacuum. It was a culmination of a bubbling undercurrent of racial tensions and clashes between young Caucasian and Middle Eastern men.

Until recently I thought we’d improved race relations in Australia. The Adam Goodes saga tells us otherwise. If our elite athletes get racially abused, what hope does the average Khaled, Ahmed or Maryam have of a fair go in society?

The then prime minister, John Howard, seemed averse to suggesting that racism was involved when he said: “I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country.”

Tell that to 14-year-old me who was petrified of going home. The lack of honesty and stench of hypocrisy suffocated me. It engulfed my lungs. I wanted our leaders to call out the terrible behaviour and criminality from BOTH sides. Then right-wing commentators and media personalities added fuel to the fire by shifting blame on the “Lebanese community”, labelling them “Middle Eastern grubs”. The divisive language and slogans from both camps created a dangerous mix of unrest, anger, hysteria, paranoia and anxiety.

Australia’s undercurrent of racism reared its ugly head that day. And despite it being 10 years ago, many are still affected today. The majority of my Year 12 cohort went on to attend university, college and TAFE. Some entered the workforce. Many went through an identity crisis. Some changed their name to make it more “Anglo-friendly” for work purposes. Some internalised racism. Others adopted a victim mentality and blamed the system for everything that went wrong in their life. While others developed an inferiority complex. Sadly, some still carry these demons with them today.

Until recently I thought we’d improved race relations in Australia. The Adam Goodes saga tells us otherwise. If our elite athletes get racially abused, what hope does the average Khaled, Ahmed or Maryam have of a fair go in society?

We need a shift in attitude from all parts of society. For starters, let’s be open and honest about our history as a nation. Those in positions of leadership need to be measured in times of crisis. We have a civic duty to proactively work towards holistic change and aspire to higher values of justice, equality and fairness.

When I walk past the park in Lidcombe, I sometimes think of the piece of wood. Like our demons, it is buried deep down inside and lies dormant. It serves as a reminder of what a 14-year-old Australian Muslim of Lebanese descent felt he had to resort to in this country at a time when our social fabric was at breaking point.

Mohamed Taha is a reporter and producer for ABC News, based in the western Sydney bureau in Parramatta. Follow him on Twitter @Mo_Taha1.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-11/taha-how-the-riots-shaped-who-i-am-today/7019998

Hero cop Craig Campbell left behind by the Cronulla riots

Date
Craig Campbell 01

Craig Campbell, pictured with his baton, fends off violent youths during the Cronulla riots in 2005. Photo: Nick Moir

He was front and centre at the Cronulla riots, furiously swinging his police baton to stop a mob of youths from bashing a Middle Eastern couple to death on a train.

But Craig Campbell is now down and out, living in a caravan outside his parents’ home on the NSW South Coast after leaving the force due to a breakdown from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The 56-year-old is not left with much.

Craig Campbell 02

Ex-police officer Craig Campbell was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and left the force shortly after the 2005 Cronulla riots. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

 

He lives on $440-a-week workers’ compensation, his marriage disintegrated and he has been unable to hold down a job since.
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Even the bravery award that he won for the train incident was later taken away when the police hierarchy deemed he used “excessive force”.

But, a few weeks ago, there was an unusual bout of good news.

 

Craig Campbell 03

Muslim community members Beylal Racheha (left) and Adam Bowden (right) tracked down Craig Campbell (centre) after hearing that he hadn’t been recognised for his bravery. Photo: Supplied

Two members of the Australian Muslim community had remembered seeing the burly sergeant on TV 10 years ago, instinctively protecting the men on the train regardless of their skin colour.

Adam Bowden and Beylal Racheha heard Campbell had not been recognised for his efforts after 10 years so they tracked him down and called on their community to pitch in.

They drove down to North Wollongong, took him out for a Lebanese lunch and gave him $1000 in new clothing and cash.

Craig Campbell 04

Two youths sit in the train after Sergeant Craig Campbell forced a mob of men back to the station. Photo: Brad Hunter

 

“We just wanted to say thank you to him for the work he’s done, it was sad no one had acknowledged it,” said Beylal Racheha, a car wash operator and charity organiser.

“When I watched it happen 10 years ago, I was proud of that policeman. It showed that the police weren’t racist. It made me feel like we weren’t being purposely targeted.”

Campbell, who is still locked in a bitter struggle for injury payments, said he was taken aback when he met the pair.

“I really teared up because, you know, I’ve helped so many people out in my personal life in and around here in Dapto and when I wanted a bit of a hand, trying to get my car on the road and things like that, no one could be seen for dust.”

“I just thought of these two blokes, out of the goodness of their heart doing this, it really got to me actually.”

Campbell said a video of him swinging his baton on the train and the platform at Cronulla has been used as a training video at the academy.

In the days after, people shook his hand in the street. One of the men being attacked on the train thanked him for saving his life. His boss, former commander Robert Redfern, gave him a letter from his two daughters who said they were proud their dad worked with such a hero.

“To say it was excessive force is just rubbish,” he said.

It is an incident he will never forget, forever bitter about the way it was derided and etched in his mind along with dozens of other horrific jobs that led to his eventual breakdown in 2007.

“These days I just potter around and grow veggies and that and try to stay calm,” he said. “I never thought about PTSD, I thought it was all rubbish. But I still see the faces when I close my eyes. You try to push it out of your head, but you can’t.”

 

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hero-cop-craig-campbell-left-behind-by-the-cronulla-riots-20160117-gm7j5r.html

 

Muslims back ex-Cronulla riot cop Craig Campbell

Craig Campbell 06

Craig with Jamal and Lana Rifi who are helping organise the Craig Campbell Cohesion Cup. Picture: Simon Bullard

The teams will be captained by prominent Muslims including boxer Billy Dib, former NRL star Hazem El Masri and cleric Sheik Nabil Suckarie.

Teams of local high school students and media organisations will also take part.

“Craig Campbell is a hero who has saved lives, and this soccer tournament will help highlight his heroic actions during the riots,” Dr Rifi said. “This is also about connecting the Australia Muslim community and the mainstream media.”

Event patron, former premier Morris Iemma, said: “For a fellow who did really good work keeping the streets safe and the role he played in the Cronulla riots, a lot of people are quite sympathetic to his plight. A lot of people are quite upset that for a man who is seen as one of the good guys, that incident in Cronulla has cost him his family and career.”

All money raised will go ­towards helping the father of three get back on his feet, while a donation will also be made to the Luke Batty Foundation.

Mr Campbell, 56, said he was “humbled” by the fundraiser, and said he was simply doing his job on the day of the riots when he saved a young man being attacked by an angry mob on board a train.

“The best part for me was the fact that I managed to save two young blokes’ lives.”

The event will be held on Sunday, May 15.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/muslims-back-excronulla-riot-cop-craig-campbell/news-story/8209896a1fec85e72187c81811308bc7

 

 

The Craig Campbell Cohesion Cup

under patronage of former NSW premier the Hon.Morris Iemma.

 

Date: Sunday 15/05/2016.

Time: from 9 AM to 4PM.

Venue: Australian National Sports Club571-577 Punchbowl Road. Lakemba, NSW.

 

Official Ceremony:   Starting at 2:00pm.

 

Fields & Officials: Professional Referees will be supervising the tournament on two indoor Courts.

 

Participants: 16 teams will be participating.

 

Team: 6 players on the field including Goalie and two reserves optional (Interchange).
The proceeds from tournament and sponsorship will be donated to Craig Campbell himself and to Luke Batty  Foundation

Confirmed Team so far:

1- Billy Dib

2-Hazem Elmagic

3- Sheikh Ahmad   Abdo

4- Sheikh Nabil Suckarie

5- Muslim Women Association

6- iShare Media

7- Al Wasat Media

8- Sydney morning herald

9-the Guardian newspaper

10-ABC team

 

 

 

 

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