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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Prescott tells riot-hit towns to unite
John Prescott
Mr Prescott discussed the impact of the riots
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has told community and civic leaders in Oldham and Burnley that residents must work together across different religious and racial backgrounds.

He visited the two towns on Wednesday to discuss the race riots earlier this year.

He was invited to private meetings by the communities to listen to their views on what caused the disturbances.

He said people should show "humanitarianism" to people of different races and religions".

It would be nice if ordinary individuals could go up to everybody and ask if everything is OK

John Prescott
Mr Prescott said afterwards: "They do want those lessons to be learned and everybody seemed united about that.

"More detailed analysis will have been done by the review authorities and that won't be available until the end of the year.

"We do recognise that while we have had special difficulties in Oldham and Burnley, there are other areas with similar problems that have not experienced those difficulties.

"I'm convinced and encouraged that people want to achieve solutions."

Mr Prescott also commented on the fear of racial tension following the attacks in the US.

Burnley pub
The riots caused widespread damage
He insisted that the action taken by the coaltion was not action against Muslims or Islam but action against terrorism.

He urged people to "show a bit of humanitarianism" to those from different races or religions.

"It would be nice if ordinary individuals could go up to everybody and ask if everything is OK."

During the meeting at Oldham, the chairman of the Oldham Independent Review Panel, David Ritchie, promised that his report, due out by Christmas, would be "hard-hitting and radical".

Mr Ritchie said: "The meeting was very positive.

"He emphasised the importance of people taking the opportunity to talk to each other across the ethnic divide about how they were feeling and just to break the ice.

"He likened it to being asked in church to shake hands with your neighbour."

Community education

Oldham councillor Mohib Uddin said that education within communities would be used to prevent any further riots.

"There needs to be integration and understanding of people of different age groups.

"He is emphasising that there should be continuous work to ensure that this does not resurface again.

"There were a number of people who expressed concern about the international situation.

"Oldham and Burnley are varied, diverse communities and people are concerned about their well-being and safety."

Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis was also at the meeting.

He described the current international situation and its possible effects on inter-racial relations in Oldham as "very worrying."

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