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Breakfast Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Fury over MP's Asian youth remarks
Bradford race riot
Asians clashed with police in Bradford last summer
A Labour MP, famous for telling immigrants to learn to speak English properly before entering the country has become caught up in another race row.

This time Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley, is accused of saying that Asian estates are rife with drugs.

She allegedly told a reporter that :

In a period of 6 months there have been 4 killings of young Asian men...It is all drug and gang related, all about who is selling drugs in which territory.'

Her remarks prompted Shahid Malik who is also a member of Labour's NEC to say that Mrs Cryer is failing her Asian constituents:

Her agenda is an agenda for damaging race relations...Her comments reinforce negative racial stereotypes and doesn't move us forward and are completely irresponsible. I feel sorry for the constituents.

Breakfast spoke to Ann Cryer and Shahid Malik. Ms Cryer said she has been misquoted and some people are trying to make political capital out of the situation. Shahid Malik said Ms Cryer is doing terrible damage to the community.



'No fear'

Ms Cryer criticised leading representatives of the Asian communities in the north of the country for burying their heads in the sand and not acknowledging there is a problem.

She also accused the Asian community of allowing youth gangs in Northern England to run amok without fear of reprisal.


Some leaders pretend it is just as bad in the white community, but we do not have this degree of killing and violence in the white community

Ann Cryer
"(Gang members) have no fear of the law as they assume the Asian community's loyalty will protect them," she said.

"People are escaping scot free because members of the Asian community are intimidated by them and fear for their own lives and those of their families.

"The community must power itself - not to take the law into its own hands - but to co-operate with the police."

She observed that there have been four killings of young Asian men by Asian men in a six month period.

"Some leaders pretend it is just as bad in the white community, but we do not have this degree of killing and violence in the white community," she told BBC News Online.

Drug deals

The MP believes the violence is mainly caused by drug dealers protecting what they regarded as their territory.

"The community here is largely Pakistani and there is a strong connection with drugs, possibly because that is where the drugs originally come from," she said.

But Robin Banerji, of the Commission For Racial Equality, believes the problem cuts across racial divides.
Ann Cryer
Ann Cryer says the majority of Asians are law-abiding

"We need to bring these young men - whatever their racial background - back into normal life," he told BBC News Online.

"It is something we all need to tackle - the police, parents and other agencies and youth services."

Rising crime

West Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent Phil Reid said crime by Asians in Keighley was on the rise.

"I can understand Ann Cryer's concerns and those of the Asian community," he said.

"The key to helping the community lies in the community. There is legislation to protect witnesses, and witness protection schemes. We have doubled our efforts to tackle criminality."

He said officers had arrested 240 drug dealers since last September.

Ms Cryer's comments are not her first to attract controversy.

In the wake of race riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley last summer she called on the government to consider introducing restrictions on immigrant brides and grooms who cannot speak English.

She said many UK Muslims were held back economically and educationally by language difficulties - but her views were branded as "sinister" by Mr Malik.

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22 Apr 02 | England
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