18th June 2003
Your correspondents Mark Boyle and Brian Finch (letters, Glasgow Herald, 18th June 2003) are either very ignorant or hideously disingenuous concerning the conviction on Monday of Sean Ratcliffe for breaking the Football Offences Act of 1991.
Mr Ratcliffe was convicted for taking part in a sickening chant by a small group of Port Vale fans against Oldham supporters. The actual chant, which strangely neither correspondent mentions, was �You�re just a town full of Pakis�.
Now this chant doesn�t particularly strike me as being meant as a complimentary term to describe Oldham as being full of �pure� people. It is clearly derogatory and designed to be insulting and offensive.
The two High Court judges who convicted Ratcliffe were surely right when they concluded that the term �Paki� was racially abusive and not just �mere doggerel� as a Magistrate had earlier ruled. The Magistrate had incredibly argued that �Paki� was a non-offensive term and was merely an abbreviation in the same way that the term Britons is often shortened to �Brits� or Australians to �Aussies�.
Incidentally, the non-abusive form of the word is �Pakistani,� which again, your two correspondents, chose to ignore.
Parts of the football sport have for far too long been tainted by sectarianism and racism, no doubt only in certain small pockets. We should all welcome the ruling by the High Court judges who have made it clear that this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.
We know there are those � especially in the far right - who deliberately want to set sections of the British people against each other, as we so shockingly witnessed in the summer of 2001 in the towns of Oldham, Bradford and Burnley. Let us work together to make sure they cannot succeed.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain
London E15 1NT