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Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Bradford reflects on riots
By BBC News Online's community affairs reporter Cindi John
It was well past Monday's evening rush hour but cars were still crawling along Oak Lane in Bradford.
The reason was not heavy traffic but rather drivers slowing down to take a better look at the devastation wreaked on a car showroom.
In one night of destructive rioting formerly gleaming vehicles worth several thousands of pounds each had been reduced to worthless burnt out shells.
The showroom itself was virtually razed to the ground and now fit only for demolition.
Oak Lane is in the heart of the Manningham district of Bradford which bore the brunt of Saturday's racial violence.
As well as the car showroom, the city's Labour club, the Conservative club and a garage had also been firebombed with several other businesses - both white and Asian-owned - also coming under attack.
On Monday calm appeared to have been restored in Manningham with few residents venturing out.
But the leaking of a controversial report into race relations in Bradford, commissioned by the city council and other large organisations in the city, appeared to have rubbed salt into the wounds of some of those who had emerged from their homes.
18-year old Sajid rejected the reported finding that there was a perception that Asian gangs were rife in areas like Manningham saying Saturday's violence was out of character.
"People around here are not going to fight unless they're provoked. The police letting the National Front in was what made people angry."
He added the police had come down too heavily on the Asians gathered for an Anti Nazi League rally.
"After the 1995 riots when people said the police were heavy handed I didn't really believe it but I've seen it with my own eyes in Centenary Square over the weekend and that's why all this rioting went on."
'Violence uncalled for'
A few streets away the Young Lions' Café in Lumb Lane is a major focal point for Bradford's small black community.
It numbers just 6,000 compared to more than 90,000 people of south Asian descent - the majority of them Pakistani and Bangladeshis.
Though geographically close the communities otherwise to be a gulf apart giving credence to the polarisation reportedly described by Herman Ouseley's report.
One black spokesman, Romel Goodall, took the city's Asian communities to task for what he called "playing into the hands of the right-wing fascists".
"The violence that took place was uncalled for and the sad thing is the rioting took place within their own community.
"Not only have they damaged their own community but people are beginning to wonder what are they really all about because it's only white owned business which were damaged and attacked.
He added he did not think the violence would spread to the black community.
"We like to take a more political view as opposed to violence. Violence doesn't solve anything but we can get into the political arena and deal with the problems that need to be dealt with.
It's just a short walk from Lumb Lane to heart of the Bangladeshi community in the shadow of Bradford City's football ground.
Two community associations and a mosque cluster together at one end of Cornwall Road where a group of young Asian men sit together quietly talking on a wall.
In spite of the reservations of a community elder, they are keen to put forward their side of events of last weekend.
Joynal Ali, who works at the Bangladeshi Youth Association, condemned the violence but denied many local Asians had been involved.
"The riots may have been in Manningham but hardly any people from Manningham were involved, people from all over the place were coming here and doing the damage," he said.
He added the trouble was not simply a race issue.
"It's not Asians versus the whites, it's youth versus the wider community which can't address their issues.
"Young people have a lot to say but there's no proper channels for them to express their opinions.
"They need to be consulted in future as part of the wider initiatives," he said.
Further into Manningham is the home of George Moffat, one of three vicars in the parish.
He believed race relations in the area had been quite peaceful but that some of that could be put down to the fact that there was very little racial mixing in the neighbourhood.
'Manningham must move on'
"In this area there's hardly any whites living anyhow. The whites moved out 15-20 years ago, so it's basically a Kashmir colony we've got here and there are some Afro-Caribbeans," he said.
"There's no option. You've got to move on. You can't go back, you can't put up the drawbridges and declare yourself a no-go area.
"There's got to be areas of facing the realities of who you are in society and then how do you negotiate with the majority of society and once people face up to that then they can find a way forward," he said.
09 Jul 01 | UK Politics
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