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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Race Relations in Bradford [by Spero Meliora]

- by Spero Meliora

Race relations in Bradford

The first dark-skinned immigrants to put down roots in Bradford after the Second World War were Afro-Caribbeans, who settled mainly in the Manningham district of the city in the 1950s. There were a large number of private landlords operating in Manningham at the time offering fairly cheap bedsits to students, on-the-move workers and anonymous homeless people in need of a place to stay for a few weeks.

In the early 1960s many Asians from the Indian subcontinent – Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Hindus and Sikhs – began moving into the city and many found accommodation in Manningham. This was a time of full employment with many job vacancies, especially in the textile mills, many on the night shift which didn’t really suit Bradfordians because of the social lifestyle they led, so Asians took the jobs.

Manningham was something of a red light district then and the general atmosphere tended to be downbeat and even a little dangerous – especially at night time. In the mid 1960s one or two Afro-Caribbean clubs opened on Lumb Lane, which runs through the centre of Manningham and the area soon became known as a place where drugs could be purchased at seedy ‘coffee clubs’ which stayed open late into the night. (Recalling from memory I think one such club was called the ‘Blue Lagoon’.) This added to the seedy and exotic nature of the district.

Over time, and especially during the 1970s, the Asian population grew and many purchased properties throughout the district. At this time the character of the place began to change as members of the Afro-Caribbean community moved elsewhere and the area then became dominated by Pakistani businesses and curry restaurants, as it is to this very day.

Many Bradfordians didn’t realise it at the time but this was the first sign of Pakistani Muslim colonisation in Bradford. This has now spread to most of Bradford’s inner city – from Manningham to much of Heaton and Toller Lane, Lidget Green, Great Horton, Little Horton, West Bowling, East Bowling, Leeds Road, Barkerend and Undercliffe. This is virtually the entire inner city district.

Prior to this, Bradford had happily accepted many immigrants from many parts of Europe, particularly from Eastern Europe following the Second World War – Poles for example who happily assimilated and integrated into British society. They worked hard but maintained their own special religious and cultural traditions. Before them, in the 19th century and early 20th century, many Jews emigrated to Britain and they likewise assimilated but kept alive their own Jewish traditions in line with their faith. This is how it was and this is how British people felt it should be.

All this changed however when the insidious doctrine of multiculturalism was introduced, and without ever once consulting the British electorate when, all of a sudden, the old ways of assimilation and integration were undermined with the introduction of the Race Relations Act in 1968. This was just six or seven years after large-scale immigration from the Indian subcontinent began.

With multiculturalism came the concept of separate development instead of integration, whereby ethnic minorities were encouraged to celebrate their own cultural identities and speak their own languages, regardless of how this impacted on the indigenous, English-speaking population. This suited Pakistani Muslims perfectly who were well on the way to establishing their own Muslim enclave in Manningham.

Now over forty years later, there are a great many different coloured-skinned ethnic minorities living in Bradford, including Bangladeshis, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Afro-Caribbeans. But it is largely the Pakistani Muslims who refuse to integrate and insist on speaking Urdu in their local neighbourhoods, thereby alienating local English-speaking people.

Growth of the ethnic minority population

A report on the 2001 Census details by Bradford Council states:

“According to the new census results, Bradford’s population has remained stable during the last twenty years, dropping by just 1,100 between 1991 and 2001, from 468,800 to 467,700. The census confirms that like other city Districts of Britain, more people leave Bradford than come to it from other parts of the UK. This is partly a result of industry closing or moving away from inner areas. There has also been an increase in commuting to city jobs from outer and rural areas.

Bradford is different from other city Districts. It has a relatively younger population and therefore fewer deaths when compared to the number of births in the district. It grows too from migration from overseas, particularly from its community ties with Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. So while other northern cities have lost 5% to 10% of their population since 1991, Bradford has not.

The composition of the District is now more firmly multicultural, with 22% in the ethnic groups other than White. Indian, Bangladeshi, Caribbean have all maintained their numbers, while the most significant increase being the Pakistani group, now 15% of residents, and the number stating mixed origins, now 7,000 residents. Bradford has the highest percentage of people with Pakistani origins in Britain. While growing in size, the Black and Asian population has also spread out of Bradford – the Census records more who have left the District than entered it from other parts of Britain.

The census asked religion of residents for the first time, as an optional question. In Bradford 8% did not answer the question and 13% stated that they had no religion. 60% said they were Christian compared to 72% for England and Wales. 16% were Muslim, making this the fourth highest in England and Wales, behind Tower Hamlets, Newham and Blackburn.” (Census statistics 2001 for Bradford district report.)

According to the report, the Pakistani population in Bradford is 67,994 and there are 75,188 Muslims. This amounts to 16 per cent of the population compared to 60 per cent Christian.

The Telegraph & Argus reported on the 2001 Census as follows:

“The number of people of Pakistani origin increased from 9.9 per cent of the Bradford population in 1991 to 14.5 per cent in 2001. The census found 2.7 per cent were Indian and 1. 1 per cent were Bangladeshi. For the first time, respondents were asked their religion – although the question was optional. In Bradford 60.1 per cent said they were Christian and 16.1 per cent were Muslim, making the highest proportion of Muslims in the Yorkshire and Humber region and the fourth highest in the country – behind Tower Hamlets, Newham and Blackburn.” (T&A online report ‘Census 2001: Spotlight on city’s crowded houses.’)

A worrying trend in these figures is the steep rise in Pakistani Muslim population, from 9.9 per cent in 1991 to 14.5 per cent in 2001 compared to the virtual standstill of the city’s indigenous, non-Muslim population. A similar increase over the next ten years could see the Pakistani population grow to around 25 per cent or even more. How long after that before Bradford becomes Muslim dominated? And will this have any implications for community relations in the city? These are not idle questions because increasingly, as we shall see, Muslims have been flexing their muscles as the population has grown.

Tackling Race Relations

In 1965 the Labour government set up the Race Relations Board along with the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants with the aim of “creating a climate of mutual tolerance in which the stupidity of racial prejudice cannot survive”. In January 1966 Bradford City Council initiated the creation of the Bradford Consultative Council for Commonwealth Immigrants (BCCCI), with the objectives of “seeking to create understanding between Commonwealth citizens and other citizens of Bradford and promote such actions as may lead to the creation of a real community” – acknowledging the existence of race relations problems at that time. In April 1969 the BCCCI became the Bradford Community Relations Council and in 1974 it was renamed Bradford Metropolitan District Community Relations Council – Bradford CRC in short. Following a policy review in January 1977 the objectives of Bradford CRC were widened to “eliminate racial discrimination in a multicultural society, achieve racial equality by fighting against racialism and promote equality of opportunity between people of different races and cultures”. In July 1990 the Bradford CRC was renamed yet again and became Bradford Racial Equality Council (REC).

With the establishment of a race relations body in Bradford came a rise in confidence amongst ethnic minorities in the city and in the early 1980s umbrella organizations began to spring up. The first was the Bradford Council for Mosques in 1981 which Bradford Council had encouraged so as to be able to consult with Muslim community leaders. Then came the Federation of Bradford Sikh Organisations, followed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (UK), with many other smaller groups following suit, each with their own specific self interest group to represent. These organisations were then encouraged to apply for local authority funding to organise events and projects to celebrate their own cultures and identities in line with multiculturalism and political correctness.

In 1984 came the first controversial incident when Bradford CRC refused to co-operate with the police for six months for allowing the British National Party to hold a march and public meeting in the city. In 1986 Councillor Abdul Hameed shocked CRC members when he announced his intention to lead a march against a meeting of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. And in January 1988 the Salman Rushdie ‘Satanic Verses’ affair broke when local Muslims burnt a copy of his book burnt in the city centre. Members of Bradford CRC decided remain neutral on the controversy on the grounds that it would be “inappropriate for a secular organization like the CRC to interfere in the affairs of a religious community”, to quote Raminder Singh, adding that “this decision attracted some criticism from local Muslims” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, page 84). Following the book burning protest with many Muslims supporting the death sentence fatwa against Rushdie, a British subject, issued by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, this led to many Britons asking the question: where does the loyalty of British Muslims lie, with extremist and militant Islam or the democratic and tolerant values of Britain? It was a question that would be asked again and again over subsequent years.

With the growth of other ethnic minority groups in 1980s and ’90 the affiliated membership of Bradford REC began to decline and a whole string of other problems arose. Singh tells how “the work culture in the office had become casual, sloppy and loosely co-ordinated”, “strict scrutiny of finances and accountability had reduced” and “the organisation’s efforts to increase the participation of young people, women, African and Caribbean community members had very little impact” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, Raminder Singh, pages 89-90.) There were also problems with “Muslim dominance” and in particular it’s Director Ishtiaq Ahmed who was “not fully successful in projecting an image of being secular and neutral” and “was perceived more as a Muslim representative and a supporter of Muslim causes” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, page 91.)

Things got worse when three incidents seriously undermined Bradford CRC in the late 1990s. The first came in March 1999 when the REC’s financial records were seized by the auditors and the case reported to the police for a further criminal investigation. The second incident concerned complains of indecent assault and sex description against the Director Ishtiaq Ahmed. Another female employee claimed racial discrimination against the body, a case “settled out of court in December 1999”. (‘The struggle for racial justice’, pages 93-94.) The following year, 2000, Bradford City Council pulled the plug on Bradford REC arguing that “an organization with a duty to work towards achieving equality found guilty of sex discrimination against its own employee, and being currently investigated for alleged financial irregularities, no longer remained a credible and viable organization to carry out race relations in the city” (page 96), and the body then folded and sank without trace, finally closing down in February 2000.

One of Raminder Singh’s final thoughts in his excellent book is on the racial divide in Bradford when he writes:

“Bradford is becoming a city of two separate worlds: a world of white people and another world composed of a few brown and black diverse communities with their own languages, cultures, religious beliefs, dress and food patterns. The division between these two worlds is becoming sharper and more visible. (‘The struggle for racial justice’, page 159.)

Actually, Bradford isn’t simply ‘becoming’ divided, it is already divided. Very much so.

The of emergence of radical Islam

It was the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 that first brought radical Islam to the attention of most people in the West, and it was the Salman Rushdie affair ten years later, in 1989, that brought radical Islam to the streets of Britain and kick-started a process of Islamisation that continues to this very day.

• 1979. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the victorious Islamic Revolution.
• 1982-84. The Ray Honeyford affair, a school headteacher who was forced out for criticising local Muslims for not encouraging their children to speak English.
• 1989. Ayatollah Khomeini issues a death sentence fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie for insulting the Prophet and Islam in his book ‘The Satanic Verses’, following the burning of a copy of the book by angry Muslims in Bradford city centre. Muslims wanted the book to be banned.

Bradford Muslims had their first notable victory when Bradford City Council agreed to provide halal meat dinners for Muslim school pupils in March 1984. Animal rights groups opposed the campaign on the grounds of cruelty since it involved ritual slaughter with animals not being stunned beforehand. This victory by Bradford Muslims was followed by the forced early retirement of Bradford head teacher Ray Honeyford only months later following his criticisms of Muslim parents for encouraging their children to speak Urdu rather than English and removing them for up to three months at a time on family trips to Pakistan. Aided by local Left-wingers Muslims branded Honeyford a racist and mounted a bitter campaign to drive him out. In December 1984 Honeyford finally accepted a severance pay settlement and retired from his post aged only 51, never to work again.

Incredibly, during the vicious campaign to oust Honeyford one demonstrator is pictured in the Telegraph & Argus newspaper with a placard accusing the head teacher of “writing in the blood of blacks”. (The picture was reprinted in the T&A on 6 October 2005.) Now can you imagine what would happen if non-Muslims (or white people) acted similarly and demonstrated so strongly against Muslim extremists!

Following the Salman Rushdie ‘Satanic Verses’ book burning protest in January 1989, came the Gulf War crisis when

“some British Muslim organistions including the Bradford Council for Mosques demanded withdrawal of American forces from Saudi Arabia, the holy land of the Muslims… A national conference on the Gulf was held in Bradford on 20 January 1991… The Bradford Council for Mosques also issued a press release on 13 February that read: The Muslim community is deeply outraged by the western aggression against innocent Muslim civilians in Iraq. It holds the British Government and those elements who have declared it a just war jointly responsible for the massacre on 13 February ’91. The peoples of Islam are committed to both peace and justice. These deaths must therefore be avenged in accordance with Islamic law in due course. The house of Islam is at war with all those who attack its interest including those so called Muslims who are in fact fellow conspirators with the forces of western imperialism.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, Raminder Singh, pages 31-32.)

“The house of Islam is at war with all those who attack its interest including those so called Muslims who are in fact fellow conspirators with the forces of western imperialism.”

This statement could have been written by any Islamic extremist anywhere in the world and yet it is put out by an organization claiming to represent ordinary peaceful Muslims in a city in the north of England! Once again, people were asking where does Muslim loyalty lie.

Singh pointedly adds,

“For a few years Bradford attracted a good deal of national and international attention because of the Satanic Verses and Gulf Crisis publicity. It gave the CRC (and its successor, the Bradford Racial Equality Council) a difficult race relations situation to handle because of the large Muslim population in the city and the leading role of the Bradford Council for Mosques in these incidents.” (Raminder Singh, page 85.)

Singh is pointedly showing the frustration he and other members of the Bradford CRC felt in having to deal with Muslims interested in pursuing their own Islamic agenda only at the expense of everyone else.

Multiculturalism and Political Correctness

It has been said before that in the 1980s the Right won the economic arguments with free market economics over state ownership of burdensome, poor performing, tax-consuming nationalised industries, while the Left won the cultural argument with their equalities agenda with their doctrine of Political Correctness (PC). Political correctness essentially divided groups along minority lines – ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc.

It was Ken Livingstone, leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) and his Left associates who pushed this agenda as the GLC began making substantial cash grants available to designated minorities to promote their own identity and culture. Thus Afro-Caribbeans were given cash handouts to set up community centres for Blacks, while Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were awarded grants to set up their own cultural centres; and gays and lesbians were awarded handouts for their own projects. In his excellent book ‘From Fatwa to Jihad’ Kenan Malik gives some fascinating figures the GLC handed to voluntary groups between 1980 and 1986 when the GLC was abolished. In 1980-81 £5 million of handouts went to various voluntary groups, rising to an astonishing £77 million by 1986. (‘From Fatwa to Jihad’, pages 58-59.)

The ‘Rainbow Alliance’ of minorities receiving these cash grants were very appreciative of course and following the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government in March 1986, Livingstone stood to become London’s first directly elected Lord Mayor in 2000 where he continued to promote the divisive doctrines of political correctness and multiculturalism. By this time Thatcher had departed and New Labour was in power – since 1997 – with Tony Blair at the helm and multiculturalism and PC were now in full swing.

Many years later it emerged that in 2000 New Labour had secretly adopted a policy to actually change the nature of Britain by encouraging mass immigration to make the UK “truly multicultural”. The truth emerged when Andrew Neather, a former speech writer for Tony Blair, blurted out in an article in September 2009 that he had seen a report by a government advisory unit in 2000 which urged the loosening of immigration controls and mass immigration encouraged for ‘social objectives’. Quoting Neather directly, Melanie Phillips wrote in her Daily Mail column of 23 February 2010:

“The 'driving political purpose' of this policy… was 'to make the UK truly multicultural' – and one subsidiary motivation was 'to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date… Ministers, however, went to great lengths to keep their real intentions secret from the public – with, said Neather, a ' paranoia' that these would reach the media – since they knew their core white working-class voters would react very badly...”

“During the period that Labour has been in office”, Melanie Phillips added, “mass immigration has simply changed the face of Britain. The total number of immigrants since 1997 is pushing three million… The pressure group MigrationWatch obtained an early draft which revealed that the Government's intention was to encourage mass immigration for 'social objectives' - in other words, to produce a more ethnically diverse society...” (Melanie Phillips, 23 February 2010.)

I repeat: “During the period that Labour has been in office, mass immigration has simply changed the face of Britain. The total number of immigrants since 1997 is pushing THREE MILLION” (emphasis added).

Now if this isn’t social engineering at its worst then I know not the meaning of the term. And this in the most overpopulated island in Europe! And whilst all this has been going on, bringing great pressure to bear on local services and housing, especially in urban working class districts, anyone who dared to speak out against these levels of immigration was branded a racist by Labour and liberal ‘anti-racist’ officials in town and city halls all around Britain.

Its perhaps worth restating here that whilst ordinary people were expressing concerns about their neighbourhoods being transformed into areas that more resembled a run-down district in South Asia and where English was now rarely spoken, council officials were doling out cash handouts to these same ethnic minorities for community projects to the amount of tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds (see the GLC figures above), something which continues to this very day. For the pattern set by the Greater London Council (GLC) in the early 1980s and continued by the Greater London Authority (GLA) with Ken Livingstone as Lord Mayor after 2000, was duly adopted by local authorities all over the UK as the 1980s progressed. Thus political correctness became the official doctrine everywhere for allocating council funds and policy-making in terms of Equal Opportunities (i.e. positive discrimination in favour of designated minorities based on ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation). Effectively this amounted to a ‘heads they win, tails we lose’ scenario with indigenous, ordinary working class people losing out no matter which side the coin fell!

Emphasising ‘diversity’ ethnic minorities were encouraged to celebrate their own identity and culture and encouraged to apply for council funding for the various projects and/or any resources they needed to achieve their aims. In Bradford, as elsewhere, this effectively divided the previously united Afro-Caribbeans, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, who had previously joined forces in the 1970s to fight against discrimination and racism in the workplace and in wider society, and against unfair allocation of housing.

Encouraged to celebrate their own distinctive culture each group now pleaded they were more deserving than the others. This ‘special pleading’ also encouraged minorities to see themselves as ‘outsiders’ and ‘victims’ and separate from mainstream British society, and there was now no need to integrate into mainstream society since official policy encouraged them to remain different. As a result many Muslim enclaves were created around Bradford’s inner city area. Today these are places where English is scarcely ever spoken and where the indigenous, English-speaking inhabitants are made to feel like strangers in their own neighbourhoods, even though many may have lived in the area for many, many years.

And the main cause of all this is the promotion of the insidious, divisive doctrine of political correctness and multiculturalism, both of which urge minorities to celebrate their distinct cultural identities and turn their backs on the dominant British culture which the liberal Left establishment view as racist anyway, especially working class culture.

From the GLC to Bradford City Council

The GLC’s pro-PC/multicultural policies were duly adopted by Bradford City Council in the 1980s, “the period of the CRC’s most intensive work with Bradford Council”, writes Raminder Singh, when “Equal opportunities became a major political slogan” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, page 81). It was during the 1980s that Bradford Council

“and other public sector institutions and voluntary agencies reluctantly replaced their policy objective of achieving assimilation by a more liberal practical objective of pluralism through the introduction of policies of such as multi-faith religious education in schools and equal opportunity policies in employment.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, pages 159-160.)

Raminder Singh also tells how, in the 1960s, immigrants from the Indian sub-continent – Pakistanis, Hindus, Sikhs – often joined together with Afro-Caribbeans to raise issues of concern, such as discrimination in the workplace, in housing allocation, etc. In the 1970s, with the racist National Front (NF) stupidly staging provocative marches through districts with large ethnic minority populations and demanding immigrants be repatriated, the emphasis shifted to more secular politics, often led by a younger generation of Asians, those who had been born and educated here in Britain.

As Munira Mirza explains in the excellent Policy Exchange report ‘Living apart together’, these younger, more radical Asians

“struggled against racial attacks, instances of police brutality, housing discrimination and increasingly tight immigration laws. This new wave of secular, anti-racist politics had a radical edge and sought to challenge the domination of older, more traditional elites. Organisations like the Asian Youth Movement, set up in 1977, made no distinction between religious communities and were created by younger leaders who had been born and educated in Britain… While many of this generation of activists were probably Muslim, they did not tend to define themselves by their religion but instead by their political allegiance. The shift to religiously orientated politics took place over the 1980s and 1990s… Parts of the anti-racist movement began to reframe their political demands from equality of provision and treatment to diversity… Whereas in the 1970s these organisations had campaigned largely around cross-cultural issues by the mid 1980s, they had moved to new issues, such as the provision of halal meat in schools, faith education, positive images of ethnic groups and Islamic clothing.”

With multiculturalism and political correctness rapidly gaining ground in the 1980s, the old idea of cultural assimilation and integration was unceremoniously cast aside in favour of ‘diversity’ and celebrating cultural differences. Instead of expecting ethnic minorities to integrate, the new PC doctrine argued that all cultures are equal, none are better than any other and no dominant culture has the right to expect minorities to conform as this is a form of inverted racism. “Since the 1980s”, writes Munira Mirza,

“diversity has moved from being a marginal preoccupation of activists to being a central concern of all institutions. The idea of diversity has spawned a massive infrastructure of politics, funding streams, services, voluntary and semi-governmental organisations and professional occupations… The logic of diversity and multiculturalism has also led to a shift in political culture, whereby ethnic and cultural groups are encouraged to make demands based on their differences and cultural exclusion from the mainstream. In order to gain resources from the public purse or even garner media attention, particular groups have to claim they are unfairly disadvantaged. The effect over the past two decades has been the emergence of ethnically or culturally specific lobby groups, each arguing their own corner for more money, resources and support for their particular identity. The danger of this growing tribalism was belatedly recognised in the official report into the riots in the northern towns of Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in 2001, which caused concerns about apparently ethnic segregation and people living ‘parallel lives’.” (‘Living apart together’, Policy Exchange, pages 23-24.)

Significantly Raminder Singh endorses the divisive nature of ‘diversity politics’ when he tells how a proliferation of groups sprang up “encouraged by the availability of local funds”, adding that some of these turned out to be bogus and fake organisations with little or no grassroots support. Singh adds,

“The whole process of decision-making about grant allocation became highly politicised. To some extent it increased the already existing divisiveness within and between minority community groups in the city. However the long-term broad impact of this initiative certainly out-weighed its immediate weaknesses.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, pages 115-116)

A major problem created by the doctrines of multiculturalism and political correctness has been the vacuum within ethnic minority communities, and especially Muslim communities, who have been the most reluctant to integrate since large scale immigration began after the Second World War. Many Muslims feel unable to integrate fully, I believe, because of the strictures laid down in the Koran and the firm belief that Islam was given to Muhammad by Allah because the other ‘people of the book’ (the Bible), the Jews and the Christians, had lost their way and abandoned the true message of God, and Muslims are instructed to spread the essentially supremacist faith of Islam all over the world in order that God/Allah may be able to rule once again – with Islamic mullahs and imams deciding what is permissible and what isn’t, as in Saudi Arabia and Iran and elsewhere.

Commenting on this vacuum inside Muslim communities, Kenan Malik tells in his great book ‘From Fatwa to Jihad’ how many second generation immigrants face an identity crisis when they reach their adolescent and young adult years because they can’t really relate to the sentimental feelings their parents have towards the country of their birth – Pakistan or Bangladesh in the case of many in Muslims in Bradford – and also find it difficult to fit into mainstream society, having been raised in largely Urdu-speaking Muslim enclaves. Feeling rootless and detached some young Muslims are vulnerable to Islamic radicals, who provide them with not only an identity but also a world-wide Muslim community, the Umma, a ready-made family of Muslim brothers and sisters to rally in defence of, especially those facing ‘Western, imperialist’ persecution in such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. In reality this umma is a myth, as Munira Mirza argues in her Policy Exchange report, because Muslims are divided all over the world, along religious, cultural and political lines. In reality the world-wide Muslim umma is anything but homogeneous, anything but united.

Some young British Muslims facing this identity crisis may become drug dealers since Pakistanis virtually run the drugs trade in the city. This was pointed made clear in an article in the Telegraph & Argus about a report by the Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO) in August 2008:

“Bradford is a centre for money laundering and a major distribution point for heroin by criminal gangs”, the ACPO report stated. The report was based on information provided by all 43 police forces in England and Wales and showed how

“Merseyside criminals controlled the drug trade on the south coast, and Glasgow was the hub for the distribution of firearms and the starting point for much of the heroin trade, while British Pakistani gangs in Bradford are at the heart of its distribution.” (‘City is centre for money laundering’, T&A, 9 August 2008.)

Raised in homes where only Urdu is spoken and then sent to madrassas as youngsters where they are taught by imams to recite the Koran in Arabic, is it any wonder many Muslims are at a disadvantage during their early school years. Only those prepared to work hard are able to make up this lost ground, while others are condemned to a life of unskilled work with little hope of improving themselves. And yet, surprisingly, many Muslims do become quite successful in their chosen professions, be it business, law, medicine, education, etc. But I suspect these are the ones prepared to make the extra effort required.

A divided city

In a society where there are divisions with ethnic minority enclaves and where the national language is scarcely spoken, the indigenous local population is bound to feel a sense of alienation and integration cannot be achieved. To put the same question another way, how can integration be achieved when ethnic minorities insist on speaking their own foreign language?

One has only to walk around many inner city streets in Bradford – from West Bowling, Little Horton, Great Horton, Manningham, Undercliffe, Leeds Road – and invariably the language spoken is NOT English. To use a New Labour buzz word here, how is “community cohesion” to be achieved when people speak different languages?

Pointing to the undoubted segregation that exists within Bradford, Singh points out that

“this process of ‘self-segregation’ has been quietly advancing over the last two decades or so. Each community has established their ‘comfortable residential’ zones.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, Raminder Singh, page 140.)

And referring to relations between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in the city, Singh writes:

“In the earlier years of South Asian immigration into the city, the settlement pattern of the new comers showed little evidence of a religious divide. However, over the years, with the re-uniting of families, a significant separation has occurred in the physical location of these two communities… Now the spatial divide between the Muslim and the Sikh-Hindu communities is marked and evident.” (Raminder Singh, pages 24-25)

Race relations legislation has only served in achieving a reduction in the use of racist language in my opinion. But racist attitudes – on both sides of the divide – continue. Rather than call it racism I prefer to describe the problem as resentment. Regardless, racism cannot be ended by legislation anyway. Racist attitudes will only decrease when a shared, common purpose can be found, and the best way to achieve this is for all of us to accept that it is essential that English is spoken, particularly at local neighbourhood level so that people can come together and learn to understand one another. With this grass roots base then real progress may be possible.

The riots –

The 1970s was a time of serious economic crisis with growing unemployment, high inflation and pay restraint for those in employment as the Wilson and Callaghan Labour government, propped up by the Liberals, imposed severe cuts in expenditure at the behest of the International Monetary Fund after the IMF had granted Britain a huge loan to bail out the economy in 1976. This was a real turning point in the post-war history of Britain which had seen economic growth and boom almost continuously since the 1950s. Now with unemployment growing, discontentment grew and young people in urban and inner city areas began to organize and fight back against the impact of the recession, growing attacks by racist thugs and police harassment directed mainly against Afro-Caribbean and Asian youths. Frustration built up and would occasionally spill over into full scale riots, the first of which took place in the Chapeltown district of Leeds in 1975, followed by rioting at the Notting Hill Carnival, London in 1976.

Things got worse towards the end of the 1970s with a serious riot breaking out in Southall in London in April 1979, where anti-National Front activist Blair Peach was killed after being knocked unconscious by a special riot police unit. A whole string of urban riots broke out in the 1980s, firstly in the St Pauls district of Bristol in April 1980; and during 1981, in Brixton, London, April; Toxteth, Liverpool, July; Moss Side, Manchester; Chapeltown, Leeds; and Handsworth, Birmingham in the summer of 1981. Tensions escalated once again in the mid 1980s with riots breaking out in Handsworth, Birmingham and Brixton, London in 1985; and on the Broadwater Farm housing estate, where PC Keith Blakelock was savagely hacked to death by a rioter in October 1985.

A third riot broke out in Chapeltown, Leeds in 1987, and in 1989 rioting occurred in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. The first riot to break out in Bradford was in West Bowling in 1989. The following year rioting broke out in Salford, Manchester, in July 1990, with further riots in Brixton, London, and Hyde Park, Leeds in 1995. The second riot in Bradford broke out in Manningham in June 1995, followed by another serious street disturbance in Manningham in November 1998.

2001 was a truly momentous year for many reasons and some serious disturbances broke out in Bradford in April, Oldham in May, and Harehill in Leeds, and the shocking Bradford riots of July 2001. Thereafter riots took place in the Lozells district of Birmingham in October 2005, with the notorious Muslim Cartoon riots in February 2006. Another riot at the Notting Hill Carnival occured in 2007, with a riot breaking out in Brighton in 2009. In May 2009 Luton saw a small riot when Muslim extremists staged a provocative demonstration against British troops who had just returned from Iraq. Finally, in 2009, riots broke out in Birmingham again, in August and in Harrow, London in September 2009.

The causes for these street riots were manifold and I cannot go into detail here, other than to say they clearly reflected the frustration and anger felt by many young people, black and white alike. In a number of cases the disturbances broke out in response to a perceived provocation – from, say, the National Front (NF), British National Party (BNP), the English Defence League (EDL), police harassment or inter-communal disputes, etc.

The first serious street riot in Bradford took place in West Bowling in 1989, and is described by Raminder Singh as follows:

“139 Muslim youths armed with iron bars, rods and cricket bats were involved in an incident in West Bowling in July 1989. The rioters claimed that they were protecting their neighbourhood from a gang of drunken white youths because the police had failed to do so. During the incident the police were stoned and cars and other property damaged. The racial tension was believed to have been caused by the Muslim campaign against The Satanic Verses.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, Raminder Singh, page 43.)

And writing about the Manningham riots of 1995, Singh tells how

“Bradford was completely shocked by its first major disturbance in the Manningham area of the city. The media described these street riots on the weekend of 9-11 June 1995 as ‘race riots’. For two consecutive nights buildings were petrol bombed, cars were burnt, shop and pub windows were smashed and a looting spree continued. A mile-long stretch of shops was destroyed with damage estimated at about a million pounds. Burning barricades were erected across a busy road and a crowd laid siege to the police station. Almost 100 police officers were involved and nearly a dozen youths were arrested. The events shattered the popularly held belief that Bradford was a city of ‘harmonious community relations’.

The trouble started when a police patrol tried to disperse a rowdy group of youths. The police were mocked and their car kicked… Whilst arresting one youngster…the police were accused of physically pushing away a woman with a baby. This was viewed as damaging the ‘honour of a Muslim woman’ and became the central issue for the family concerned and for the entire Muslim community. However, claims and counter-claims about the facts of the incidents lasted over the whole weekend.” (‘The struggle for racial justice’, pages 43-44.)

Singh adds:

“Two significant features of these incidents emerged: (a) that only young Muslim males were involved and no Hindu or Sikh youth took part in the incidents; (b) only white and Indian owned businesses were among those attacked. Thus to call these street disturbances ‘race riots’ was clearly a misleading media description.” (Raminder Singh, pages 44-45.)

Singh also describes another night of trouble when

“Asian Muslim youth once again created serious disturbances in the Manningham area on Bonfire Night in 1998… A rampaging mob of some 80 youths set a garage on fire, destroyed a telephone box, burnt down a two-storey bargain shop and torched a number of cars in nearby side streets. A barrage of missiles was targeted at police officers and the Lowcroft House police station… The incident was described as ‘mayhem by a minority’ and was condemned by local community leaders.” (Raminder Singh, page 45.)

Moving on to the next conflagration, Singh tells how

“Bradford captured the media headlines the world over during the seven-day period of 8-14 July 201. Two major events – the four consecutive nights of riots on its streets followed the publication of a major Race Review report by Lord Herman Ousley on the state of relations in the city – happened by coincidence rather than by design...

Earlier that Easter (15 April 2001) over one hundred Asian gang members clashed with white youths for more than six hours in the Lidget Green and Great Horton areas of Bradford. Trouble started at the Coach House pub when some white youths (believed to be skinheads) made racist jibes at the guests attending a private Asian (Hindu) celebration. Very quickly the trouble spread to the street and during the rampage pubs and shops were smashed, 17 cars were burnt in one garage and a number of people were seriously hurt. A large contingent of police in riot gear was involved in controlling the mayhem and restoring peace. Police made 100 arrests. The violence sent a shock wave around local communities.” (Raminder Singh, page 135.)

Then came the Bradford riots of July 2001, hot on the heels of the riots in Oldham (in May) and Burnley (in June) when for “four consecutive nights Bradford witnessed violence on the streets, the worst violence since the Manningham riots of 1995. It was sparked off as a reaction to rumours that a large number of BNP supporters were coming to the city in the wake of a ban imposed on their proposed demonstration in the city... A peaceful rally of 500-700 Anti-Nazi League supporters heard that an Asian youth was beaten up by skinheads drinking in a pub in Ivegate a short distance away... Within minutes the disrupted rally of largely Asian Muslim youth became an angry mob and the entire city centre turned into a battleground between a large contingent of police and youths. The riot police were pelted with bricks, glass bottles, fireworks and petrol bombs. Running battles between the youths and the police continued well into the early hours and quickly spread over a large area of Asian concentration in the White Abbey Road, Manningham, Carlisle Road and Whetley Hill areas.

Fires gutted dozens of cars, a garage full of BMW cars, three pubs, two clubs, an Asian restaurant and a number of other properties in one night. Sporadic outbreaks of violence continued on the following Sunday. On Saturday, almost 1000 police officers were involved in patrolling the streets of Bradford. More than 260 officers were injured in the operation and by Monday 60 people had been arrested and charged. The damage caused during the riots is estimated to be well over £25 million. The policing bill for the riots soared by £250,000 a day.” (Raminder Singh, page 135-136.)

The following Monday and Tuesday white youths staged street disturbances in the Holmewood, Ravenscliffe, Fagley and Bierley areas of the city. “Three Asian restaurants were damaged and the police made 24 arrests.” (Raminder Singh, page137.)

The significance of all this mayhem, writes Singh, was that

“For the first time, people across the political and religious spectrum publicly acknowledged that in Bradford it isn’t an ‘Asian’ or ‘race relations’ problem, it is a ‘Muslim’ problem... Like the Manningham riots of 1995, no Hindu, Sikh or African-Caribbean youths were involved in the violent clashes with the police or in burning, smashing and looting during the weekend of 7 July. A number of white correspondents writing in the local press used terms such as ‘Muslim racism’ and ‘colonisation by Muslims’ to explain the behaviour of Muslim youths who were involved.” (Raminder Singh, page 141.)

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