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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 13:20 GMT
Campaigners rally against BNP
Debris and people in the Glodwick streets after trouble on 27 May
Events in Oldham sparked copycat riots elsewhere
A coalition has been formed in a campaign to prevent the far right from gaining any council seats in Oldham.

A campaign led by the TUC, the National Assembly Against Racism, and various Asian organisations aims to reduce support for the British National Party in time for local elections in the town next May.

At the general election in June, the BNP won more than 11,000 votes in Oldham, shortly after three nights of street violence devastated the town.

Speaking at the launch of the coalition at the Oldham Civic Centre on Wednesday night, John Monks, the TUC General Secretary said: "Lack of quality employment still creates a cesspool of opportunity for fascists, racists and nazis to broaden and exploit the unhappiness of many in our community."

Police have released images of alleged rioters

Mr Monks added that it was time that fascists were thrown into the dustbin of history.

The campaign will focus on better voter participation and "telling the truth" about fascism and racism.

Granville Lawrence from the Glodwick West Indian Association said: "Thus far and no further.

"Let me say this to the activists, they shall not pass."

Arrests continue

Between 26 and 28 May, 83 police officers and 28 members of the public were injured in the rioting.

At the time, the leader of the BNP Nick Griffin said the riots were "absolutely inevitable" and recommended the building of Belfast-style peace lines.

On Wednesday police in Greater Manchester released media images of 18 youths who they want to question in connection with the Oldham riots.

There have already been 120 arrests and 29 people have been charged with rioting - a specific offence under the Public Order act.

More violence

Oldham's Bangladeshi Youth Association says the BNP has been very active in the town since the terror attacks in the United States.

The coalition to counter the BNP was launched in front of an audience who heard a reading from the Koran.

Qari Shakir, a member of the panel, said: "All mankind, we have created you from a single male and a single female and made you into tribes and nations so you may know each other and not that you may despise each other."

Last week, Kaleen Arshad, 14, had his skull fractured and underwent a three-hour operation after he was beaten with a rounders bat in a racially-motivated attack at South Chadderton High school in Oldham.

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See also:

27 Jul 01 | UK
Trouble erupts in Oldham
29 Jun 01 | UK Politics
National Front targets Oldham
15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'No no-go areas in Oldham'
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