A team of Muslim lifeguards - including a female dressed in a modest "burquini" - began patrols this week on a Sydney beach that was the scene of frenzied race riots between Australia's Caucasian majority and its Middle Eastern minority in late 2005.
The violence erupted in the popular beachside neighborhood of Cronulla when around 5,000 mostly male, Caucasian youths launched an alcohol-fuelled rampage against anyone who looked Middle Eastern, spurred by rumors that a group of Lebanese-Australians had attacked two white lifeguards.
The Cronulla riot sparked two nights of retaliatory attacks by carloads of Middle Eastern youths, shocking this city of 4 million that had prided itself on being a successful multiracial melting pot.
Earlier this week, the national lifeguard association, Surf Life Saving Australia, handed qualifications to a team of Muslim guards in a bid to promote racial unity and overcome the stereotype of the bronzed, blonde Australian surf rescuer.
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