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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
City shocked by race murder
Tribute to Kalan Kawa Karim
One of the floral tributes left to Kalan Kawa Karim
Floral tributes to Kalan Kawa Karim have been left on the street where he was murdered in Swansea.

The Iraqi Kurd, 29, was attacked close to the Kingsway in the early hours of Monday in what police believe was racially motivated incident.

It is within yards of St Helen's Road, the most obvious sign of Swansea's increasing multi-cultural population.

Home to city's mosque, the past decade has seen new restaurants, ethnic grocers, bookshops and a video store dedicated to Bollywood movies.

A decade ago racism was not at all rife
Khalil Ahmed

According to the 2001 census, just 2.2% of the city's 224,000 population is from a non-white ethnic group.

But as the multi-cultural population has increased, according to some, so has the level of racism.

Khalil Ahmed, who runs a bookstore on St Helen's Road, has lived in the Hafod area of Swansea for the last 17 years.

"A decade ago racism was not at all rife," he said.

"There were a lot fewer Asian or coloured people in Swansea and they were made to feel very welcome.

"But as more have moved to the city because of that welcome I think racism has increased.

"I live in the Hafod and on the streets you see the young children from all families playing together.

"But when they go to secondary school they divide into groups."

Mr Ahmed believes part of the problem is a lack of understanding and media portrayal of the asylum issue.

"Some white people in Swansea see a coloured person and think asylum seeker," he added.

St Helen's Road
St Helen's Road is a visible sign of multicultural Swansea

According to the local council, Swansea has taken in 1,052 asylum seekers in total, who have been accommodated in homes across the city.

"Some white people are not taking the time to understand why they are seeking asylum, what they have been through and why they have left where they have come from," added Mr Ahmed.

"They see things in the papers and get angry - it is mainly the younger ones who drink or take drugs who cause the trouble."

Another store owner on St Helen's Road was of a similar belief.

"When they are drunk they cause trouble - they come in and say 'you should go home'.

"It is not many but it is not good," he said.

None of those willing to speak to the BBC News website expressed any disquiet about the asylum issue in Swansea.

Reg Mead
Reg Mead believes alcohol plays its part

But among those stopping to read the tributes on the flowers left in memory of Mr Karim, a number said they felt Swansea was becoming less welcoming than was once the case.

Reg Mead, who now lives in Britton Ferry, said: "What has happened to this man is disgusting.

"They are brainwashed. Because a person is dark they think they are all friends of Saddam Hussein.

"If you put a uniform on them they would not go and fight but they will have a go at people in the streets.

"It's the youngsters who have had too much to drink that are to blame."

Selina Roberts
Selina Roberts says racism is inevitable in a growing city

Student Selina Roberts is starting her third year of studies in Swansea.

"I think because Swansea is a growing city they is a greater mix of race, especially with more overseas students at the University and Institute," she explained.

"Some people have a closed mind so you are going to have a problem with racism.

"I think the media, especially certain papers, put their own spin on things such as asylum.

"They don't show both sides of the story so people do not understand what they have gone through or why they want to come here."

Racism 'common' in city - claim
08 Sep 04  |  Wales
Murder puts city in race spotlight
08 Sep 04  |  South West Wales
Race murder victim is named
07 Sep 04  |  South West Wales
Witness appeal in Iraqi murder
07 Sep 04  |  Wales

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