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Australia uses curry to combat anti-Indian violence

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Indian students rally in Melbourne, Australia, 31 May 2009
Australia's South Asians and others have protested against the attacks

The organisers of a "Vindaloo Against Violence" campaign in Australia say they have had an overwhelming response.

Australians are being urged to dine out at Indian restaurants in a show of solidarity after a string of recent assaults on foreign students.

The day of action has attracted widespread interest online, and aims to help repair Australia's reputation.

This has been tainted by assaults on young Indians in the past year in Melbourne and Sydney.

The violence has soured diplomatic relations between Canberra and Delhi.

Overwhelming

The police have insisted that while some of the assaults were racially motivated, the majority were not and were carried out by opportunistic thugs.

The 'Vindaloo Against Violence' day of action is the work of Mia Northrop, a 24-year-old digital media designer in Melbourne.

She says that interest in the occasion generated by social networking websites has been overwhelming.

"We have had over 6,000 people around Australia now, not just in Melbourne, RSVP to the Facebook event," she said.

"We have had a lot of people comment through Twitter and lots of wonderful comments coming from other Melbournians about how they are so glad there is some vehicle for them to express how they are feeling ," she said.

"They too were frustrated that we weren't getting that message across to the local community or to India that, yeah, we are paying attention.

"We want to be proud of Melbourne and we do value our immigrant communities."

The grass roots event has attracted the attention of the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

His government has been forced to defend allegations from Indian politicians and sections of the media that Australia is a racist country that is not doing enough to protect foreign students.

Named after a legendary hot curry, the 'Vindaloo Against Violence' campaign takes place on 24 February.



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