Four times the usual number of police are on the streets of Sydney in a bid to calm racial violence. On Monday night hundreds of Muslim staged an angry standoff outside a mosque in the western suburbs of the Australian city.Authorities now want to stop a third night of confrontation, and may implement special powers to effectively lock-down some areas.
The state parliament may decide to increase jail terms for rioting from five to 15 years, and double the penalty for street fighting to 10 years behind bars. The trouble began on Sunday afternoon in a violent clash between people of white and Middle Eastern origin.
The white Australians said they were defending their beach after lifeguards were attacked, supposedly by a gang of Lebanese origin. Police believe white supremacists were involved in inciting violence.
Youths of Lebanese origin struck back on Sunday night, smashing cars, assaulting people and fighting with police. Eleven arrests have been made.
Local media reports text messages are circulating predicting more violence next Sunday. The state governor says he will not allow Sydney’s reputation for tolerance to be tarnished.