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Muslims Victims of Oldham Tensions

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IHRC report launched today, cites the rise in Islamophobia as a main cause of the disturbances in Oldham and Burnley in the last two months.

 

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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PRESS RELEASE
2nd July 2001

No embargo

Muslims Victims of Oldham Tensions
Preliminary Report on Oldham Riots Cites Rise in Islamophobia as Main Cause

 

A report launched by the Islamic Human Rights Commission today, cites the rise in Islamophobia as a main cause of the disturbances in Oldham and Burnley in the last two months. It is the first in-depth study of communal tensions in this country by a Muslim organisation.

The preliminary report is based upon consultation with members of the local community, and explicitly seeks to give particular voice to the Muslim youth constituency. This part of the Asian community has found itself blamed for the violence by the non-Muslim community, police, far-right and indeed some parts of its own community within the areas and beyond. The preliminary report's authors initially focussed on this group as it is one that has not been represented either historically or in the aftermath of recent events.

IHRC's report focuses on the perceptions of the Muslim Youth community and assesses to what extent these perceptions are wholly or partially unfounded or indeed justified. The report's four authors use expert analysis to contextualise the perceptions and make provisional recommendations based on their findings. These recommendations include the fair and equitable distribution of regeneration funds coupled by fair and accurate reporting of the same by local and national media. The need for projects to bring various communities into contact with each other is a basic and urgent requirement to bridge building in the community. On a national level the government must address religious discrimination and harassment as part of its current race relations review, as well as properly legislating against it.

The latter recommendation comes in the wake of the clear targeting of the Muslim community by the far-right. This targeting has gone largely unchallenged by government, media and local agencies. This failure to condemn the rise and exploitation of Islamophobia by the far-right has legitimised an unprecedented escalation of Islamophobia in mainstream society, culminating e.g. in the recent interview of Nick Griffin, BNP leader on Newsnight, where he stated that the inter-communal problems in Oldham were not "an Asian problem, but a Muslim one.”

The report cites many examples of the use of Islamophobia. By not challenging it, the relevant authorities are legitimising the scape-goating of Muslim youth as the sole cause of problems in Oldham and Burnley. The report concludes:

"There is now no excuse for the government not to act. The Runnymede Trust, the IHRC and the Derby Reports into religious discrimination have all been published. To delay any longer in the light of Oldham and Burnley would not only be unethical but disastrous.”

For a copy of the report or more information, please contact the press office on (+44) 20 8902 0888 or (+44) 7958 522 196, e-mail: info@ihrc.org

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