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Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Asians targeted in arson attacks
Nick Griffin protesting at the Oldham count
Nick Griffin condemned the fire bombing incident
Police are investigating two separate arson attacks on Asian properties in Lancashire which officers have described as racially motivated.

In Accrington, an Asian family of seven escaped unhurt when their home was set alight early on Saturday morning.

Hours earlier an Asian-owned greengrocer's shop was fire-bombed in Burnley.


People like Nick Griffin need to realise that Asians living in this country, the majority of them, are as British as he is

Mohammed Nawaz
The attacks came as the BBC dropped plans to interview the British National Party leader in Burnley, the scene of recent rioting and continued racial tension, on police advice.

Instead BNP leader Nick Griffin was interviewed by telephone on Radio 4's Today programme.

He condemned attacks such as the one in Accrington in which a burning substance was thrown through a downstairs window of a family's home.

'Asian thugs'

He said: "We care about all innocent people, Asian and white being attacked.

But he accused the police and the media for focusing on attacks only on Asian people.

Riot police
Burnley was hit by violence after racial tension
He said that there were faults on both sides of the community and said the BNP did not treat people differently.

However he added: "But fundamentally the people treating people differently because of the colour of their skins are the Asian thugs for some years now, in places like Burnley, have been winding this up by attacking innocent white people."

No-one was injured in Saturday's petrolbombing of an greengrocer's shop in Briercliffe Road, Burnley at 0045BST.

Separately, there were petrol bomb attacks on two cars in Burnley's Padiham area on Saturday morning - in Victoria Road and Milton Street.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the two attacks in Burnley.

Speaking in Burnley, Mohammed Nawaz, a member of the Muslim community, said: "People like Nick Griffin need to realise that Asians living in this country, the majority of them, are as British as he is.

"There is room in our communities, in our society for the assimilation and integration of Asians into general society."

But he said there was no room for Mr Griffin's "bizarre" views and the community felt a stance needed to be taken against people like him.

Interview criticised

Community leader Shahid Malik, a member of Labour's ruling NEC and the Commission for Racial Equality, had already criticised the BBC for being "irresponsible and insensitive" in originally planning to hold the interview with Mr Griffin in Burnley and had refused to appear alongside him.

He made a complaint against Lancashire Police this week for allegedly smashing him in the face with a riot shield.

"Even if he was interviewed by telephone, I would not wish to interact in any way with his repugnant and pollutant views," he said.

A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: "The proposed line-up of guests for the Saturday morning discussion would have brought together at one venue in Burnley people from strongly opposed political and ideological groups.

"The local police and council felt that, given the tensions in the local community, this would create the potential for unnecessary conflict at a sensitive time.

He said a number of people aside from the police and council shared grave concerns about the gathering and public safety was paramount.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BNP leader Nick Griffin
"When we talk about defending whites we are talking about political defense"
43 year old Burnley taxi driver
"What's happening to us. Do we not deserve better?"
Mohammed Nawaz of Burnley's Asian community
"People like Nick Griffin need to realise that Asians living in this country are as British as he is"
Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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See also:

15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
07 Jun 01 | UK
25 Jun 01 | UK
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