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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Town tackles racial tensions
Debris and people in the Glodwick streets after trouble on 27 May
Oldham was the scene of riots earlier this year
Community leaders and politicians are meeting in Oldham to try and learn how to help soothe racial tensions in the town.

The north-west town was the centre of race riots in May this year which saw cars torched, houses attacked and pubs petrol bombed.

A conference, called "Making Sense of It", is being held on Wednesday to help the local community cope with racial tensions.

Meanwhile in Manchester, community leaders are meeting to discuss a growing undercurrent of racial anger in the city following the US terror attacks.

The ideas of the conference is to discuss the reasons for the racial disturbances and how the community can move forward

Abdul Malik-Ahad
Forward North West
Representatives of the Asian communities will meet civic leaders to discuss how further attacks on Muslims can be prevented.

Abdul Malik-Ahad, regional development officer for Forward North West (FNW), told BBC News Online the Oldham conference would not be overshadowed by last week's terrorists attacks on America.

Minute's silence

But he added that recent attacks on Muslims meant the issue could not be completely ignored.

"The ideas of the conference is to discuss the reasons for the racial disturbances and how the community can move forward," said Mr Malik-Ahad.

"The events in America have led to attacks on Muslims and mosques in recent days but we are keen not to let the issue take over the conference.

"There will be a minute's silence at the beginning and one of our speakers will touch on the subject."

Racial tension

FNW is jointly organising the conference with a number of organisations in the north-west area.

Mr Malik-Ahad said he hoped policies to deal with flare ups in racial tensions could be established at the conference.

"There needs to be some discussion and the conference will be a platform to get the community and politicians to come together and share ideas.

"We will have policies and practice in place so if something should happen, like the attacks in America, we will know how to deal with any backlash."

Speakers at the meeting include assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester Police Alan Bridge and Jim Hancock, political editor for BBC North West.

Community partnership

Three main areas - neighbourhood renewal, crime disorder and justice and race, culture and religion - have been identified for discussion.

Yousuf Motala, chair of FNW, said: "Our work is enabling strategists and policy makers to work in partnership with the community.

"Hopefully we can develop and implement a range of sustainable programmes that will directly benefit local people."

Gabrielle Cox, head of social inclusion policy for the north west development agency, which is co-sponsoring the event said: "The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for policymakers, politicians and the community and voluntary sector to engage in discussions, share good practice and explore policy issues."

Mosques firebombed

The north west regional assembly, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Preston Borough Council and the learning skills council are also sponsoring the event.

Trouble has flared in the Manchester area since the attacks in the US.

Two mosques in Bolton and Manchester were firebombed during the last week.

Greater Manchester police have appealed for calm and warned that hate crimes will not be tolerated.

See also:

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