A school bus carrying Muslim children has been stoned in the Queensland capital, Brisbane, as part of a backlash against the terrorist attacks in the United States.
Anti-Muslim feeling was already running high in Australia after the government's decision last month to turn away 433 mainly Afghan asylum-seekers rescued by the Norwegian freighter MS Tampa in the Indian Ocean.
But incidents of threats and abuse have escalated sharply since the attacks in New York and Washington this week.
The country's mosques have received abusive phone calls, while racist slurs and swastikas were scrawled on a Lebanese church in Sydney yesterday and vandals tried to set fire to an Orthodox church. Women wearing head scarves have been spat at. There were also reports of Muslim women's veils being ripped off and of a mosque in Perth being defaced with faeces.
The school bus in Queensland was pelted with bottles and stones, which damaged the side of the vehicle. No one was injured, but the children were said to be shaken. Police patrols have been stepped up around the school, in the Brisbane suburb of Karawatha.
Sultan Deen, chairman of the Queensland Islamic Council, said anonymous callers had telephoned mosques. "It is very disturbing," he said. "They are saying things like 'you will be held responsible' and 'we'll get you'."
Yasser Soliman, chairman of the Islamic Council of Victoria, condemned the terrorist attacks and offered prayers of support. He said the Muslim community was appalled. "Terrorism, the killing of innocent people, is a crime against God and against humanity," he said.Reuse content