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The Cronulla riots: Muslims’ place in the white imaginary spatiality

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On 11 December 2005 at Sydney’s Cronulla Beach about 5000 Australians, mostly young men from Sutherland Shire, wrapped themselves in Australian flags and asserted that Cronulla Beach belonged to them through abusive language against Lebanese Australians. Subsequently, on 12 December 2005 a group of Australians of Lebanese heritage launched an attack in reprisal. The former group exhibited their “Australianness” through an urban model based on exclusion, implying they were the West so, of course, they were better than the rest. The latter fought back, exhibiting that they also represented the West. They demonstrated their territorial rights as they asserted that the beach also belonged to them. The rather aggressive posturing of both parties raises the question of whether Muslim Australians have a place in the white imaginary spatiality.

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  1. Nulla is a short form of Cronulla.

  2. In this paper, I use the term Sutherland Shire boys (and sometimes Anglo Australians) because the riots occurred at Cronulla which is within Sutherland Shire. Some mainstream Australians from other suburbs may have joined the Sutherland Shire boys if they were invited through text messages.

  3. In her maiden speech Pauline Hanson said, “I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished … I believe we are being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 % of all migrants into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate” (cited in Cope and Kalantzis 2000: 224).

  4. Muslims have two important festivals in a year. One is Eid-ul-Fitr, which is celebrated immediately after the month of fasting, Ramadan, and the other is Eid-ul-Adha, the feast celebrated after hajj on tenth Zil Hajj.


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I express my sincere gratitude to all the students who participated in this study. I also thank the parents and the school authorities for supporting the survey. Special thanks to Mr Alan Moir and Mr Andrew Meares for their generous contribution of the cartoon and photograph for this article. Finally, I thank the reviewers for helping me shape this paper to the theme of this special journal edition.

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Correspondence to Nahid Afrose Kabir.

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Kabir, N.A. The Cronulla riots: Muslims’ place in the white imaginary spatiality. Cont Islam 9, 271–290 (2015).

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