Libs play race card on beach stabbings
Tracy Ong and John Stapleton
THE NSW Opposition has renewed its call to stamp out a "subculture" of "Middle Eastern thugs" following the arrest of one man accused of involvement in a stabbing spree at Bondi Beach on Friday night.
But Waverley Deputy Mayor George Newhouse has told Opposition Leader and local member Peter Debnam to butt out of the debate, saying putting more police on the beat was not the solution to outbreaks of violence.
Ahmad Elchami, 18, from Chester Hill in Sydney's west, was arrested on Saturday. Police say his white van was at the scene on Friday night when six teenagers were stabbed in the carpark behind Bondi Beach.
Three people aged 16, 18 and 19 remain in hospital in a serious but stable condition, while three 17-year-olds were discharged on Saturday.
Mr Elchami was refused bail yesterday morning and will appear again before Waverley Local Court today.
A second man, aged 18, from Granville in Sydney's west, was taken into custody but released pending further inquiries.
Despite speculation by the council that the brawl was "more a case of West Side Story" than a racially motivated attack, Mr Debnam went on the warpath yesterday over Middle Eastern crime.
"There's a subculture of increasingly brazen Middle Eastern young men who will have a go at anyone," he said.
But Mr Newhouse responded that: "Debnam should know better." Waverley Council and local police have had a "very active" safety committee since the New Year's riots seven years ago and police should not be criticised for not being able to be "everywhere at once", he said.
Mr Debnam dismissed the claim. "(Labor-controlled) Waverley Council would say that," he said. "These Middle Eastern thugs have been running riot for about 10 years."
Contrary to Mr Debnam's call for more beat police, local business owners said police were effective. The manager of Ravesi's restaurant said trade was subdued after the Cronulla riots, but additional police put on since then had reassured customers and encouraged them to return.