7 June 2001 Edition

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Oldham deputy mayor's home petrol-bombed


Following the violence in the Glodwick area of Oldham a fortnight ago, the home of the Deputy Mayor of the town, Riaz Ahmad, who also represents Glodwick, was targeted in a racially-motivated attack last Friday. A petrol bomb was thrown through a bedroom window causing extensive damage to the house. Mr Ahmad and his family were at home at the time although all escaped injury.

The family has now been forced to move, and as Mr Ahmad was driven away from the house in a police vehicle two men described as shaven-headed and heavily tattooed attempted to barge the car he was in. It is not known whether they were arrested.

The National Front has consistently threatened to stage demonstrations in the area, whilst the BNP is fielding several candidates for election in Oldham, including its leader Nick Griffin. They are targeting voters in places such as the Werneth Arms, an exclusively white pub where windows were smashed on successive nights last week.

``I'm not a racist, I'm a realist,'' Joseph Smith, a customer, told the Guardian on Friday. He said many of his friends would be voting for the BNP on Thursday. ``We just need to let both sides have a go at each other,'' he added. ``We're fed up of the little niggles and sniping.''

The landlady of the Werneth Arms, Renee Brown, told the newspaper she believes that licensed premises are targeted by Asian youths because of their religion. ``My opinion is that pubs are an Asian target because Asians don't drink, Asians don't bet, so if they can close all the pubs down they can do what they want.''

In Glodwick, the predominantly Pakistani community is furious at imbalanced media reporting which devoted a huge amount of space to supposed `racist' attacks on white people, and also at police tactics. They point out that Pakistani taxi drivers have been the primary victims of violent racist attacks for years without any comment in the media. There is also continuing anger that whilst white racists have attacked Asians, the police have only become involved once the Asian community has retaliated, leading to clashes between Asians and the police whilst the racists make a getaway.

There were further riots on Tuesday of this week, this time in the Harehills area of Leeds, when some 300 people took to the streets after the police arrested a Bangladeshi man on Sunday. A local resident who witnessed the arrest said that the man had been punched, kicked and had CS gas sprayed into his face from close range. The trouble started because Leeds police refused to take any action over the manner of the arrest and the use of CS gas.

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