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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Sikhs urged to reject BNP approach
Nick Griffin
BNP leader Nick Griffin says he is to meet a Sikh leader
Anti-racism campaigners have warned ethnic minority communities to give a wide berth to the extreme-right British National Party in its efforts to forge links with the Sikh community.

The BNP, according to its leader Nick Griffin, is holding conversations with a Sikh leader in Southall, west London.

We have a BNP that is desperate to get in bed with anybody

Shahid Malik
His remarks have raised fears that the far-right party is trying to sow seeds of division within minority communities by seeking to have other groups condemn Muslims.

But Sikh leaders have rejected the BNP's suggestion that there is friction between the two communities in the area.

BNP's new tactic

Mr Griffin, who has previously been convicted of inciting racial hatred, claims his party only wants to help ease tensions between Sikhs and Muslims in the capital.

He is also denies that the Holocaust took place and has described British multiculturalism as an experiment that failed.

Recently Mr Griffin has targeted young Muslims, blaming them for summer riots in the north of England.

Shahid Malik
Shahid Malik was injured during the riots in Burnley
But he defended his party's change of tactics by arguing that an all-white Britain was no longer feasible and the country should "make the best of a bad job".

He told the BBC: "I've had quite a lot of conversations and discussions with a member of the Sikh community down in Southall and although we may disagree on some things, we found a great deal in common.

"We were able to exchange information about problems that our people and their people have had with Muslim extremists."

But anti-racism campaigners have warned blacks and Asians not to work with the BNP.

'Dangerous, vile people'

Shahid Malik, a commissioner for the Commission for Racial Equality, told the BBC: "We cannot afford to communicate with these kind of people."

He added that the party was simply attempting to set different communities against each other for their own ends, and warned the BNP that "divide and rule will not work here".

"We have a BNP that is desperate to get in bed with anybody with whom they can move their issue and their cause forward...

"These are dangerous, vile people."

Doubt over claims

Prominent west London Sikhs cast doubt on the BNP's claims. Dr Parvinder Singh Garcha of Southall's Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple said he believed on the whole the communities co-existed peacefully.

"There may be isolated events like those which occur all over the place but I'm not aware of an undercurrent of tension," he said. "I don't think many people in Southall are."

Mohan Singh Nayyar from a Sikh temple in Hounslow also poured cold water on Mr Griffin's claims.

He believed Mr Griffin had "manufactured" his allegations of tensions between communities.

"Our temple is only about 400 yards away from a large new mosque and we've never had any problems," Mr Nayyar said.

"We are actively involved in inter-faith groups which include both Sikh and Muslim leaders."

See also:

06 Sep 01 | UK
Southall rejects BNP claims
03 Sep 01 | UK Politics
BNP questioned over US fund-raising
24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory expelled over BNP row
24 Aug 01 | UK
BNP: A party on the fringe
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