Australian Prime Minister John Howard Monday condemned Sunday's racial violence in Sydney's beachside suburbs, but said he does not believe Australian society is racist.

Mr. Howard says attacking people based on their race is totally unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.

On Sunday, thousands of young white men gathered at Sydney's Cronulla Beach.  Many of them attacked people of Middle Eastern appearance and damaged cars and shops.

The attacks followed allegations that young people of Lebanese background had attacked two lifeguards at the beach and harassed local women. 

Late Sunday, scores of young people of Middle Eastern descent retaliated to attacks by smashing the windows of about 100 cars.

The fighting has left more than 30 people injured, including police and paramedics.  At least 16 people have been arrested.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP, Reuters.