Veteran crime and corruption reporter Chris Masters tries very hard to dismiss the high crime rate among Middle Eastern Australians as a just a passing wave – but can’t:
Sydney has Australia’s largest proportion of Middle Eastern-born residents, but in a city of more than four million people they still number only about 120,000. Undeniably the community is disproportionately represented in criminal activity.
You only need to go to the jails to see what NSW prison’s officers have come to call their “Gaza Strip”. Inmates of Middle Eastern background are crowding most areas of serious crime. According to Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham, the numbers continue to grow, as do management difficulties….
The next example of disproportion is the number of police assigned to the specialist Middle Eastern Crime Squad. It is the largest in the NSW Police, with up to 120 personnel.
Most of Sydney’s Middle Eastern-born residents come from Lebanon, drawn from successive waves of migration – but, as is often pointed out, the trouble is less with these citizens as with their sons and grandsons.
Chief Superintendent Ken McKay, the straight-talking Director of State Crime Command, has made a lot of arrests and, he says, in three years not one of them was a foreign national.
An Arabic cultural expert who advises police and prefers not to be named links most of the crime to a third wave of migration between 1978 and 1982 – fallout from a vicious civil war. While the generalisation has its limits, many of these newcomers had not regarded Australia as a first choice, seeing the move as temporary. As a result there was less of an effort to assimilate and learn the language.
Indeed, the official policy switched to almost encouraging themÂ not to, and adapting Australian institutions to accommodate those who wouldn’t.
While auto crime is a speciality, as with many ethnic crime groups there is energetic diversification. And as usual drugs are the main attraction… As [the head of the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad] and other officers see it, religious faith has no bearing other than to further reflect migration patterns.
Do they really know that, or assume it for fear of seeming bigoted? Islam, after all, is a faith that preaches rejection and subjugation of non-believers – and is thus likely, at least in theory, to inhibit assimilation and a sense of communal responsibility towards other Australians. So it’s no surprise to hear it’s the last refuge of the jailed scoundrel:
If religion does figure at all it seems to do so more after they are locked up and find what is sometimes called “prislam”.
Masters tries to reassure:
Ten years ago young Vietnamese Australian hoods were similarly ripping and tearing. We now hear little of them, even though the evidence suggests some of the quieter and more efficient have grown to become very big players.
The truth is that the Vietnamese-born (even without counting their born-here children) still have one of the highest imprisonment rates of any immigrant group here,Â double that of the Australian born. Indeed, young Vietnamese in Victoria were until recentlyÂ 50 times more likely than other young Australians to be convicted for trafficking in heroin.
And Masters concedes:
I would like to say this particular crime wave will, like so many others, soon recede. But that is unlikely.