Reports of increasing attacks against Australian Arabs

A hotline set up for people to report calls of racist attacks within the Arabic community has been swamped in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States, the Australian Arabic Council (AAC) said today.

AAC spokesman Timor Hazou said the unconfirmed attacks included children being physically harmed and racially vilified at school.

"There (are) also women calling us saying they have been spat on and had their veils pulled off in Melbourne and Sydney," he said.

Mr Hazou said he had anticipated an increase in incidents in the aftermath of Tuesday's (AEST) terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

"There has been a large increase in incidents in the last 24 hours.

"Obviously from experience we know it is going to happen, it happened during the Gulf War, it happened during the Oklahoma bombing," Mr Hazou said.

"And we knew it was going to happen this time, and it is happening and its getting quite serious."

Mr Hazou said the hotline was used as a confidential register of racism against the Arabic communities.

He said people within the Arab community were often too afraid to report the incidents to police.

"Of course with any marginalised group of people they are nervous to go to the police, especially considering the nature of the attack they don't want to draw anymore attention to themselves," he said.

A police spokeswoman said they were not aware of any racially motivated attacks but urged anyone affected to report the matter to their local police.

"We will treat such attacks as serious and they will be acted on," the spokeswoman said.

While the AAC said it endorsed the hunting down of the terrorists who attacked the US, it also warned people against any haste to blame Muslims.

"The Arab communities and Muslim communities here in Australia are now going to feel the brunt of this," Mr Hazou said.

"So we are urging the wider community to support our community by not tolerating xenophobia and the scapegoating and the witch hunting, and show that support locally, on talkback radio and other channels, they will stand by our communities and not tolerate racism."

The Uniting Church in Victoria joined the pleas for rationality, urging people not to scapegoat particular ethnic communities.

"Already some religious and ethnic communities in Australia are feeling increased aggression directed toward them - particularly the Muslim community," Reverend Alistair Macrae said.

"This is to be deplored."

Meanwhile Mr Hazou condemned pro-Islamic slogans which were daubed on a building in Melbourne's central business district this morning.

Graffiti was painted on at least three entrances to the Primus Telecom building on the corner of King and Collins Streets sometime before 6am (AEST) this morning.

The slogans included the words "Victoy (sic) of Islam, Death for Jew + Christ".

"Whoever did it is not representative of any community and it's an individual who is on the extreme end of political, or social or religious views," Mr Hazou said.

"That sort of thing can't be tolerated whether its against any sort of person or race or community."