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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Bradford: An Asian family's view
Nasir and Nadeem
Nasir (left) with his one-year-old nephew and older brother Nadeem
In the second part of a series profiling the experience of different communities in riot-torn Bradford, BBC News Online's community affairs reporter Cindi John speaks to the Ashraf family from Pakistan.

"My granddad used to teach us 'you need to go to mosque, you need to be a good Muslim' so I strongly believe in my own system, my own culture as it affects life a lot," said Nadeem Ashraf, explaining why his religion is so important to him.

Thirty-year old Mr Ashraf spent his early life divided between Bradford and Pakistan, where he lived with his grandparents for nine years before settling in Britain in 1989.

Mostly it's 50-50 around here, we get along with each other fine but it's the youngsters who are spoiling it for us

Nadeem Ashraf on life in Lidget Green, south Bradford

Nadeem and his wife and son live with his parents in the house bought by his father 35 years ago when he first arrived in Bradford to work in a factory.

He said he experienced no problems being a Muslim in the Lidget Green district of south Bradford - an area with a big Pakistani population.

"Mostly it's 50-50 around here, we get along with each other fine but it's the youngsters who are spoiling it for us.

"I don't find any difficulties balancing being a Muslim and living here. Our next door neighbour is a Christian and a really good friend of ours," he said.

Nadeem's younger brother, Nasir, who also lives with their parents, agreed that life had become more difficult since the recent disturbances.

"It's not as easy as it was before when you could just get on with things," he said.

'Race unimportant'

Nasir, 20, has lived in the UK since he was six and attended a local school where he said 99% of the pupils were Asian.

But he said he didn't think that had stopped him being able to get along with white people.

"I get on with white people, I'm not racist myself, I think it's good to socialise with other people."

He said that although his girlfriend was also of Pakistani origin, race did not mean much to him.

"It's not really important to me but going out with a Pakistani girl is easier when it comes to fitting in with family life," he said.

I get on with white people, I'm not racist myself, I think it's good to socialise with other people

Nasir Ashraf, 20

But his brother Nadeem said it had been important to him to marry a Pakistani woman and for her to know about their culture.

He said that was why he had been happy to agree to an arranged marriage to Rabina, who comes from Lahore.

"My wife is completely different to girls who have grown up in England. She understands our system. She's a good housewife, she looks after everything, she looks after me."
Nasir Ashraf
Twenty-year-old Nasir would consider looking for work in Pakistan

The couple now have a one-year old son.

Mrs Ashraf had spent all her life in Pakistan before marrying in 1998 and said leaving was a wrench.

"I prefer Pakistan because I spent most of my life there and my parents are there. But my twin sister is also in the UK so I don't mind being here too," she said.

Nadeem works as a care assistant looking after elderly and disabled people.

He is not happy in his job but said he had trouble finding another.

"If it's not your colour, it's your qualifications," he said, admitting that his education suffered because of frequent travelling between England and Pakistan as a child.
Riots in Bradford
Bradford has been hit by violent racial outbursts

"If I stayed in one place I might have finished my education and would have been in a better position than I am now.

"But in the long run it's better because I know what my culture is."

His younger brother is looking forward to a career in information technology and intends to move south after finishing university.

"There are few career opportunities in Bradford in IT generally plus there's more money down south - you might find an IT job here but down south you're looking at better salaries," he said.

Staying in Bradford

Although Nasir said he would consider moving to Pakistan in search of a good job, Nadeem has no plans to leave the UK.

"We're here to work to support our family, I don't mind going back for visits but staying there would be hard," he said.

He added that something should be done to persuade more people to stay in Bradford.

Mr Ashraf said: "Bradford's not a bad area, one thing I don't understand is why people keep going to London and places like that.

"I think the government should do something about Bradford, like giving us some job opportunities."

Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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09 Jul 01 | UK Politics
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