Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What goes around, comes around

As the gang of boys shouted "Paki" and hurled stones towards 18-year-old Ladan Jama and her sisters, she flung her arms around her two younger siblings.

So begins this article from The Grauniad. What image does that conjure up for you? I would guess that, like me, you instantly assume that the "gang of boys" were white. The article doesn't say whether they were or not, but clues come later.

Aik Saath began as a response to racial tensions in Slough between the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities in the late 1990s.

As someone who has lived in Slough all his life, this comes as no surprise. I remember the racial tensions between black and Asian communities in the seventies - though I don't recall what started it. I do remember the Asian mob who attacked me in my car as I attempted to drive through "their" area of Chalvey one evening after college. I was unhurt, but my Ford Escort suffered several dents, a brick through the rear window and broken lights. Anyway, back to the article.

With current negative public perceptions of Islam leading some members of the community to feel angry and alienated, Aik Saath's project manager Mandeep Kaur Sira says its work is more vital than ever.

And why would there be "negative public perceptions of Islam"? Which members of the community feel angry and alienated?

"We did a session where young Muslim men felt they understood why people would want to go to Afghanistan and 'help the struggle'.

Ah, those members of the community. What struggle would that be, then? The struggle to reinstate the Taleban and introduce widespread oppression again? The article closes with this little gem.

The project is currently dealing with the negative stereotypes of the area's new Polish community. "There is some friction, with the established Asian community complaining that the Polish are 'taking our jobs'."

I had to laugh at that last sentence. Sounds just like the sort of thing you'd hear from that seventies arch-bigot Alf Garnett. Come to think of it, Aik Saath sounds like the sort of thing Alf might have said, "If we're going to get to Bognor, we need to aik saath, not north you silly moo!"

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