Corey Bull has no doubt as to who was to blame for the racial violence which erupted on a popular Sydney beach just before Christmas. Tension had been rising between locals and Middle Eastern youths who Mr Bull says had been acting in a threatening manner during weekend trips to Cronulla beach, in southern Sydney. 'They come down in packs and act as if the beach is theirs,' Mr Bull, a 34-year-old carpet layer and father of two daughters, said. 'They kick balls around, kicking sand in people's faces, they don't care about anyone else but themselves. 'They start harassing young girls, telling them they've got great bodies, making inappropriate remarks. If the girls tell them to piss off, it just gets worse.' There are fears that the violence may be repeated tomorrow, Australia Day, with at least one white-supremacist group exhorting supporters to converge on the beach in a show of strength. Watching his children making sand castles at Cronulla, Mr Bull says he does not condone last month's violence, in which thousands of white youths descended on Cronulla and attacked Middle Eastern-looking people, but he can understand why it happened. 'It has been brewing for years. The locals got together and said 'enough is enough',' he said. Further along the beach, Melanie Philipson is the epitome of the bronzed Aussie bikini babe, smoking a cigarette and wiggling her toes in the white sand. 'They are intimidating because they come down to the beach in gangs,' Ms Philipson, 32, a radiographer, said. 'They are the only ethnic group that I feel that way about. They look for trouble.' Lying beside her on a beach towel, Ian Christiansen, 25, a forklift driver, agreed. 'They come in here and harass our women and harass people in the street. People are just sick of it,' he said. Cronulla is part of an area of southern Sydney known as Sutherland Shire, a bastion of white, working-class culture in a city which prides itself on its cultural and racial diversity. Australians as a whole believe in the principle of a 'fair go', or equality of opportunity for everyone, regardless of colour or creed. But from time to time the country shows itself profoundly uncomfortable with the way in which it has been changed by successive waves of immigration over the past half century. Community leaders of all ethnic backgrounds blame widely syndicated Sydney radio 'shock jocks' for fuelling hate. Typical of the breed was radio presenter Brian Wilshire of Sydney 2GB, who told his listeners that Lebanese immigrants were 'inbred ... the result of which is uneducationable [sic] people and very low IQ'. There was another insight into these attitudes this week, after Western Australia announced that it would allow Sikh and Muslim officers to wear navy blue turbans and hijab head scarves. Similar concessions were adopted by police in Britain years ago, but in Australia they were greeted with outrage and indignation. The police spokesman for the state's opposition party asked whether it was only a matter of time before officers would be allowed to interrupt their patrols to pray to Mecca five times a day. The Western Australian Police Union said the public might not react well to being policed by officers wearing 'unfamiliar uniforms'. 'Changing uniforms to suit individuals undermines the uniform, the authority it is meant to represent and Australian culture,' one Sydney newspaper reader wrote, while another branded the move 'stupidity'. Some politicians have not been slow in using the aftermath of the riots to score points as the debate over race and law and order rages. This week, for instance, the leader of the opposition in New South Wales called on police to 'lock up 200 Middle Eastern thugs' who he said were responsible for retaliatory raids around Cronulla. Without offering any evidence, Peter Debnam said: 'There's 200 thugs on the streets of Sydney who should be in jail. I'm saying to the government, 'get in their face, get 'em arrested, get 'em locked up'.' The 'us and them' mentality looks like remaining a fixture on the beaches of Sydney and other parts for a long time.