Le 1er site francophone sur l’Australie, le pays-continent › Forums › Les peuples aborigènes › Aborigènes › Article de G. Henderson 13/12/05 sur le multiculturalisme
13 décembre 2005 à 11 h 52 min #68561CarolineParticipant
Attention : cet article est lié aux évènements de Cronulla.
We are mostly a tolerant society, except when alienation meets ignorance writes Gerard Henderson.
AUSTRALIA is an accepting nation. This is best judged by the relatively high levels of inter-marriage between ethnic groups and the relatively low levels of ethnic crime. That’s why the violence which has taken place on various beaches in southern Sydney over the past two weekends is so troubling. However, the matter should be kept in perspective. This is not so much a clash of civilisations but, rather, a series of disputes between some aggressive Australians of Lebanese Muslim background and a group of aggressive (and drunk) Australians of Anglo-Celtic background. If the violence which was evident last Sunday (most notably on Cronulla beach and in suburban Maroubra) is to be properly assessed, the facts should be dealt with honestly.
As the contributors to James Jupp’s edited collection The Australian People (CUP, 2001) make clear, Lebanese immigration to Australia started a century ago. The early settlers were Christian – Maronite Catholics, Melkite Catholics and Orthodox. There were also some Muslim Druse, who mainly settled in Adelaide. For over a century, Christian and Druse Lebanese made a most positive contribution to the Australian community. Perhaps the best known Australians with a Lebanese background are the NSW Governor, Dr Marie Bashir, and the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks. Both were born in Australia with one or both parents from the Maronite tradition.
The first wave of Lebanese Muslims came to Australia following the start of the Lebanese civil war in 1975. As Dr Nahid Kabir points out in her book Muslims in Australia (Kegan Paul, 2004), « they have been referred to as ‘quasi-refugees’ because they were not accorded refugee status or services but the usual requirements were temporarily relaxed to allow them entry ». In other words, Lebanese Muslims circa 1975 did not meet the strict definition of a refugee. This decision was made by Malcolm Fraser’s Coalition government and was consistent with Fraser’s accepting attitude to refugees, or those whose condition could be regarded as similar to that of refugees. The Lebanese Muslims tended to settle in the south-western suburbs of Sydney.
There have been successes among Lebanese Muslims. But some Australians of Lebanese Muslim background, who were born in or after 1975, have not pursued education and, consequently, have found themselves unemployed or in low-paying and/or insecure employment. Some of this group are involved in serious crime against people and property and, in recent years, a small minority have flirted with radical Islamism.
For the most past this small group, which is overwhelmingly male, has become alienated from mainstream Australia – including their family and religious groups. Quite a few young Muslim Lebanese Australians take little notice of their fathers, their mothers or their spiritual leaders. In short, they are out of control. Not because they are of Muslim background but because they are into crime, from a relatively young age.
Mix Lebanese Australian youth with drunken Australian beach-goers and an occasion for serious violence soon exists. As Bruce Baird (the federal MP for Cook, which includes Cronulla) pointed out on ABC Radio 702 yesterday, more than 90 per cent of the Sutherland shire consists of Australians of Anglo-Celtic background. That is, from Monday to Friday. On weekends, however, many Lebanese Australians travel to the area from south-western Sydney.
Australia is essentially a tolerant and accepting society. It is consistent with the essential Australian empiricism that individuals of ethnic background meet their most sustained opposition in the areas where few of them live. This is in stark contrast to genuinely racist societies where ethnic groups are opposed because they are known.
In Australia, on the other hand, opposition to immigration is highest in those suburbs, regional centres and rural areas where there are few Australians of non-Anglo-Celtic background. In Australia, it is invariably a lack of familiarity which breeds contempt.
Cronulla is very much the embodiment of the Australian surfie culture. There is significant alcohol and drug abuse, along with a disturbingly high suicide rate. This matter has been referred to by Baird and fellow federal Liberal MP Danna Vale along with the state Liberal MP Malcolm Kerr.
Last Sunday’s violence came after that of the previous week, where a gang of Muslim Lebanese Australians attacked some young lifesavers on North Cronulla Beach.
The former group inflicted the violence but it seems a degree of verbal provocation was involved since the Cronulla North lifesavers reminded the south-western suburb inhabitants that they could not swim.
The revenge came a week later. It was fuelled by drink and drugs. But there was a degree of organisational support from such extreme right groups as the so-called Patriotic Youth League. Television viewers witnessed quite shocking scenes as young out-of-control Anglo-Celtic Australians inflicted extreme violence on anyone they deemed to be of Lebanese background. The police and ambulance services did their best but both were outnumbered. Then, later, a group of Muslim Lebanese Australians conducted their own violent revenge on the citizens of suburban Maroubra. It was a case of ethnic violence begetting ethnic violence.
It is unfair to blame the mainstream media for what happened. For example, a re-reading of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph indicates that it reported the lead-up to last Sunday’s events quite responsibly. Likewise, talkback radio did not spark the violence. Young Australians, of whatever ethnic background, can communicate their messages by mobile phones without using the established media.
What occurred in Sydney last weekend is a police matter which should be resolved in the courts. It is especially serious because the crimes which took place have been motivated by troublemakers, Anglo-Celtic members of the lunar right and alienated cultural Muslims alike.
For the most part, multiculturalism in Australia has worked well. The violence of last weekend was not evidence of the breakdown of multiculturalism but, rather, its absence.
Gerard Henderson is the executive director of the Sydney Institute.
- Vous devez être connecté pour répondre à ce sujet.