Friday, June 5, 2009

"Curry-bashing" - what ethnicity are the attackers? Does it matter?

I need to set the record straight about some stuff. A few people on the internets have been linking to my first post on the curry-bashing phenomenon, and have been trying to twist it for their own agendas.

I mentioned that "if you were thinking of it as white-on-brown, Aussie-versus-foreigner violence, you’d be mistaken, as the picture is more complicated than that. There is no dominant trend apparent in the ethnic background of the attackers – Anglos as well as people of European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian heritage all feature."

I also mentioned that some of the attacks, particularly on taxi drivers in 3 suburbs, were by African youths.

Now it seems that some people in the blogosphere are taking this out of context, and trying to interpret this information as "Asians and Africans are responsible". This is something I did not imply at all, and so I wish to make it clear about who is actually committing the crimes. With the exception of the African gang attacks on taxi drivers, I deliberately avoided mentioning the ethnicities of the attackers, since I didn't think it was especially relevant. The more pertinent issue is that there is a culture of violence amongst many young people in Australia, which reaches across ethnic boundaries.

Likewise, foreign media has singled out Anglo-Australians to a degree which is perhaps unfair, linking the attacks to the history of white colonialism and the "arrogance of the white man". While many of the perpetrators do seem to have been Anglo, it is hardly restricted to that group, with many coming from migrant backgrounds as well.

Note: Most Australian media often avoid mentioning the ethnicity of suspects, for as I have shown above, some people selectively interpret this information to form prejudicial views. My intention to clear up the details of ethnicity is to actually counter these prejudicial views. The information I am presenting here is all in the public domain, and is available on the internet if you are prepared to search for it, which I was.

In the recent attack of Sourabh Sharma by 7 youths on the Werribee line train, it was clearly a group of mixed identity. At least one was clearly white; one looked like a Pacific Islander but could also have been Southeast Asian, and one looked either South Asian, Middle Eastern or Islander.

Regarding the attack on taxi driver Jalvinder Singh in 2008:

Parish Charles, 45, of Alphington, has been remanded to reappear in court on
July 23 over the incident and faces charges including attempted murder.

You can make your own mind up about what background Parish Charles comes from.

On the case of the 4 young men who actually used the term "curry-bashing", and who attacked Binesh Mosaheb and Zhonjun Cao, killing Mr Cao:

Four young men have been charged over the attack on Mr Cao. They come from
different ethnic backgrounds, including Asian, Italian and Pakistani heritage,
police say. John Caratozzolo, 20, of Melton South, appeared at Melbourne
Magistrates Court yesterday charged with one count each of murder and robbery
over the two attacks. Magistrate Thomas Barrett remanded Caratozzolo to reappear on May 16. A 16-year-old appeared at the Children's Court charged with the same offences and was also remanded. The two other youths, both 17, charged with Dr Cao's murder, were extradited from Adelaide yesterday to appear at the Children's Court today.

The 17-year olds in this case were convicted and were only referred to by their initials.

WH was born in China and MBA came from a migrant family and was dark-skinned.

Regarding the group of men in Sunshine who attacked Indians in the Impex Grocery Store, putting Sukhraj Singh in a coma, one of them was caught on camera and described:

He was described as caucasian, aged 17 to 20, about 170cm, thinly built,
with light-coloured, short-cropped hair and wearing dark clothing.

Regarding the group of thugs who beat and almost killed Dr Mukesh Haikerwal:

The much respected doctor was said to have been attacked by a gang of people
aged between 17 and 21, of medium-build and Caucasian-looking, who went on an
one-hour rampage, attacking four other people in a five-km radius on the night
of Sep 27.
Two 19-year-olds, Michael Baltatzis and Sean Gabriel, and a
16-year-old boy faced an out of sessions court at Broadmeadows Saturday morning in relation to the attacks, reports the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
Baltatzis is facing 10 charges of armed robbery and intentionally causing
serious injury, and Gabriel and the 16-year-old are facing six charges of armed
robbery and intentionally causing serious injury, reports AAP.

As stated earlier, the spate of attacks last year on taxi drivers in the adjoining suburbs of Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale and Flemington were apparently all by gangs of African youths.

Convicted of the murder of Indian taxi driver Rajneesh Joga in 2006 was Broadmeadows man Eyyub Bayram Zaim, to whom we can probably infer a Middle-Eastern background.

The crowds of youths who attacked a Sikh taxi driver and Asian shopkeeper on Australia Day this year in the Sydney suburb in Manly were clearly of Anglo background, as photos indicate. They shouted "Aussie Aussie Aussie" and wore clothing emblazoned with "F--- off we're full."

Also in Sydney, on the day of the Cronulla Riots in 2005, 2 Bangladeshi students who lived nearby were attacked in their car by crowds of rioting youths who were predominantly Anglo. The main target of aggression that day were Lebanese, but an Italian man walking nearby was also chased.


Obviously this only the tip of the iceberg; there are many attacks that we do not know about. But it gives you a picture of who is out there attacking South Asians.

I have heard some people commenting that since some of the attackers were themselves of migrant backgrounds, meaning that the attacks could not in fact be racist in nature. This of course is rubbish - racists can come from all backgrounds.
However, in many of the attacks in which we do not know ethnicity but which have included racist abuse of the "go back to your own country" or "you look like a terrorist" variety, I will say anecdotally that I very much doubt that Africans were responsible for any of these. It just does not ring true when you consider the background of the African migrants in those areas; many are from Muslim backgrounds themselves (so shouts of "terrorist" are unlikely), and given that many have only been in Australia a very short time themselves, I doubt they yet have the sort of attachment to this country that usually accompanies this sort of attitude.

So in conclusion (and read this carefully, because I don't want anyone to miss my point here and take more stuff out of context):
The perpetrators in these crimes are of various ethnicities, and do not necessarily have the same motives. Some are clearly racist and xenophobic, some are "wrong place, wrong time" incidents, and some have a combination of both factors.

I don't think it helps to try pin this on particulary ethnic groups, as some are trying to do. This trend demonstrates that racism is pernicious throughout society. But more relevant is the culture of thuggishness that has become increasingly common throughout Australia's young males.


UPDATE (27 July 2009):

The India Times describes the well-publicised screwdriver stabbing of Sravan Kumar Theerthala in May as being by "two white boys", according to a witness. The same article reports a random attack in Box Hill in late June on another Indian student, Mir Qasim Ali Khan, by "two beefy white teenagers."
Meanwhile, one of the attackers of Sourabh Sharma (mentioned earlier in this article), has been revealed to be of Indian origin himself. Which certainly adds an intriguing element to the mix.

Sunny Bajaj, punched and racially abused in Boronia in mid-June while getting into his car by two men, described one as white and one being of African appearance. Wow, a black person and a white person coming together to victimise a brown person. Messed up world, innit?


  1. If you were to listen to Andrew "Afrikaner" Bolt, you'd have the idea that this is all done by "Africans". He keeps insinuating this all the time, and now his readers take it as gospel that all these attacks are committed by "Africans".

    "If the ethnicity of the attackers were only to be revealed", Bolt more or less says, "then you'd see!"

    The guy seems to want to make Australia the Afrikaner Homeland!

  2. I agree that there are some pretty ugly attitudes festering away among the Herald Sun's readers, and Bolt seems only too happy to encourage them.

    He's of Dutch background rather than Afrikaner, unless you have inside information.

  3. He's of Dutch background, yes. I'm only calling him an Afrikaner because he has that mentality. But then again, the Afrikaners are of Dutch descent ... so maybe he has some sympathy for them.

    But it's truly extraordinary that a person like him can occupy such a prominent position as he does. In other Western countries he'd be roundly condemned by everyone and shunned. But not only is he a major columnist, he's also an associate editor, and so presumably plays a significant role in the news direction the paper takes. And all this perfectly acceptable in Australia!

    Certainly not Australia's finest hour.

  4. I have to disagree with your implication that someone like Andrew Bolt would only occupy such a position in Australia. Ever watched Fox News? Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter are far worse than Bolt in my opinion. Likewise the UK has people like Melanie Philips and others.

  5. United Colours of Bastardry...

  6. That's right bonoboboy. To paraphrase the late Michael Jackson, "If you're a f***ing ***hole, it don't matter if you're black or white."

  7. anglesanddimensionsMarch 12, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Just checking out your other entries. I hope that's okay?
    I wasn't surprised to know about the ethnicity of some of the attackers. I used to frequent an Indian chatroom where some Australians of purely Indian descent often chatted. During the time when media were abuzz with news of attacks on Indians in Oz, the topic would occasionally come up in the discussion. Most often it would be like:
    X(Indian): F*cking racist!
    Y(Australian-Indian): F*cking fob!

    The better ones would be like:
    X: Hey, how's it like over there?
    Y: Fine, why?
    X: we heard a lot of Indian-bashing's going on there.
    Y: Do you have any idea what Indians do here? They have no manners etc.

    So I don't really think it's just white people who hate Indians, even though I tend to think that the attitude of some white Australians towards immigrant contribute to this sort of mindset in some non-whites who just want to 'belong'. I may be wrong, I don't know what it's like being an immigrant, but frankly it looked a bit strange to see people of purely Indian descent living abroad sort of justify the attacks on Indians for ridiculous reasons. And it gets even stranger when so many born and bred Indians justify the attacks with comments like the one below:
    I take pride being an Indian and I do regret stating about scums that exist in my country. But, I take most of my pride in just being a human and in no way I can let a xenophobic Ignorant to slander foreigners by using words like "racism", "white" and "prejudice" as weapons.
    If Attacking Aussie s use slogans like "get out of our country you F****** Indians" then with a smidgen of self-esteem left over get the f*** outta their country and start working for the home nation to improve its status equal to that of Australia.(and that would just be a joke btw)
    Here is a little tip for you that will help you to get acquainted with new people(especially foreigners). "you scratch their back, they will scratch yours, you try to mess with them they will certainly f*** with you"
    "Those who live in glass houses must not throw stones on others". Obviously, Indians messed up with Aussies my making monkey gestures on symonds.(search youtube and you will see the picture of it). Now, Indians live in Australia pay for it.(there are many causes besides that symonds incident too). Taking about attacks, one of the guys in that train during Melbourne attack looks like an Asian. What you say about those guys now.? Are they racists or just muggers.? or An Asian racist living in Australia.?
    I agree with the fact that Native English Speakers make fun of ridiculous Indian accent because it deserves a ridicule.
    Neither do all Indians have that accent. Hope you know about the stand up comedian "Russel Peters", an Indian from your place(calcutta) settled in Canada. He makes fun of Indian Accent in front of thousands of Indians and Indians laugh at his jokes. I know how north Indians makes fun of south Indians accent(Hindi). Then, surely English as an International language demands perfection. Why do people need to get into MNC BPO S if they can't speak proper English.?(And Don't you dare to bring the same old poverty stricken sordid stories again.) You can persuade a white man with your doleful and straitened circumstances but not me because my family had experienced, endured and persevered them.

  8. anglesanddimensionsMarch 12, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    If you go to a newspaper site there are all sorts of douchebags from all countries venting - but this is not from a newspaper, it's from a standard discussion forum.
    Now before you get me wrong, I'm not excusing the problems that exist in India(sort of a mandatory disclosure, ain't it?). Name one problem and we have it. If there's one problem we don't have, let us know and we'll obediently develop it. I also agree that some Indian migrants are a genuine pain in the a*se, but that does not justify beating Indians up and admitting that some of the attacks may have racial elements would not make Australia look like a racist haven. Also trying to put the blame on ethnic groups is rather comical as they're Australian too. I notice a marked absence of standard comments such as 'this is not a hate crime' when ethnic groups are being blamed for the attacks, but my sources on Australia are limited, so let me know if I'm wrong.
    My English is pathetic, and this is a rather long comment, so I understand reading it could be painful.

  9. @ angles:
    thats a long comment and I'm not sure how to respond to it.
    The frustrating thing about this whole issue was that it was dominated by two sides; those who claim it was all a beat-up by the Indian media and that there was no racism, and those who see Australia is a hotbed of racist violence. The truth, as often, lies somewhere in the middle.