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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 17:11 GMT
9/11 violence 'stalks UK Sikhs'
Stop and search in progress
There has been a huge rise in the number of Asians stopped and searched
Racial assaults on Britain's Sikh community have become "fashionable" since the 11th September attacks, a Sikh community leader has told MPs.

Jagdeesh Singh of the Sikh Community Action Network said 9/11 had opened up a new form of vocal and physical racism against Sikhs and other ethnic groups.

The British government had done "next to nothing" to protect Sikhs, he told the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The committee is looking into the impact of anti-terrorism measures.

MPs are also examining the alleged stigmatising of minority groups "associated" with terrorism and any evidence of an increase in racial tension.

Mr Singh said 11 September had become a trigger for a small minority to justify their racism and randomly go out and attack people.

For the first time, Sikhs in Britain had experienced a very "deliberate" and very "fashionable" form of racism, he said.

The way the legislation has been implemented has had a disproportionate effect on Muslims
Sadiq Khan
Muslim Council

Racist abusers often shouted "Bin Laden "at Sikh men walking down the street because of their beards and turbans, he said.

Mr Singh himself had been attacked in September when British hostage Ken Bigley was being held in Iraq by kidnappers.

His attackers had laid the blame for Mr Bigley's kidnap and events in Iraq on Mr Singh and those of his racial appearance, he said.

Mr Singh also accused the national media of having a "pervasive culture of disinterest" in the attacks on Sikh community members.

Sadiq Khan, of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, told MPs there were huge concerns about the way new stop and search powers granted under the terrorism act were being used

He said police could now stop people in an area designated to be under threat of terrorist attack.

This was understandable if an attack on Canary Wharf, for example, were suspected.

Monitoring

But the problem was that the whole of Greater London has been designated as such an area, which meant police could effectively stop anyone they liked, he said.

And there was little evidence that such stops led to charges and prosecutions.

There was a need to ensure the government and police used these powers properly and were held to account, Mr Khan said.

"The way the legislation has been implemented has had a disproportionate effect on Muslims and we are concerned whether there are systems in place to monitor them."

Concerns that the introduction of tough anti-terror laws has led to the unfair targeting of some ethnic minorities have been raised by many interest groups.

According to figures released in June, there has been a 300% rise in stop and searches of Asian members of the community since the introduction of anti-terrorism legislation.




SEE ALSO:
Terror laws 'hurt race relations'
08 Jul 04 |  Politics


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