brief fact finding report by a team from the Muslim Council of Britain visiting
Bradford on 13 July 2001 cannot claim to be comprehensive or systematic. Nevertheless, it was able to hear the views
of many Muslim residents, observers to the events and those who had played a
role in seeking to contain the situation.
The damage to life and property was against the law and
cannot be condoned. However the situation was firstly provoked by the National
Front/BNP, then further exacerbated by the type of tactics adopted by the
Police, and finally exploited by a small, opportunistic trouble-making
core. The vast majority of the rioters
were local youth compelled by a sense of
frustration and anger.
The parents are acutely aware that their children are their
responsibility but they face a crisis of moral authority. The school system encourages the young to
challenge parental discipline and does not do enough to stamp out a drug
culture. There is need to improve the outreach of mosques to provide
youth facilities and moral education.
All sections of the
Asian Muslim community – youth, parents and community leaders – believe the schools are in crisis. There are institutional problems of poor
standards, low achievement, few Asian
Muslim teachers in schools with predominantly Asian Muslim children and a
reluctance to involve Muslim parents as school governors.
The Police are perceived by the Asian Muslim community – by
youth, parents and community leaders alike – to be indifferent to their
complaints and racist. The Police are not trusted by an important
section of the Asian Muslim community. The gap of trust between the Police and the
community is widening.
The Muslim community leaders feel frustrated that funding
allocated in Bradford over the years for regeneration have not made the impact
expected. A further increase in
resources to the Police is not the answer. An audit should be undertaken to establish why real changes on the
ground have not taken place.
MCB is convening a National Conference of Muslim organisations on 4 August 2001
in Oldham to enable Muslim youth
leaders, community workers,, imams and other experts to share views and
identify courses of action to restore confidence in community relations.
Findings on the week end troubles
Some developments before the week-end
days before the troubles there was a rumour that the NF was going to create
Police knew that there would be troubles; they should have taken steps before
Events of Saturday
news spread that the NF was in town.
The Anti-Nazi League started gathering in Centenary Square – mostly
Asian Muslims. The Police announced that the NF was no longer in the City and
the crowd could return home . However the NF emerged from two pubs in the
centre of town, shouted abuse and beat up and stabbed an Asian youth badly”.
pub owner said that he could see the Police watching the attack”.
injured boy would corroborate that the Police watched the attack taking place”.
had told the Police prior to the attack that the man involved in the stabbing
was a member of the NF”.
officers were 5 yards away from the incident.
They could see the abuse, then the stabbing; only then did they come and
surround the injured boy”.
Police arrested one (of the attackers) but not another”.
crowd increased in size from 500 to over a 1000. We, the Muslim leaders, requested the Police to keep the youth in
the city centre, but we were told ‘We know better than you’.”
the NF youths were taken out of town, they were not taken away in vans, but
walked through the Muslim residential areas”.
crowd was forced by the Police out of the town centre and into residential
the peaceful community of the Oaklands area – who have every right to be
protected – called the Police, they did not come”.
Police themselves say that they received 79 calls of support from the Muslim
community on Saturday night”.
Events of Sunday 8th July
1 am to 3.45 am there was not a single Police car or officer in sight”.
the Police was reported that the BMW garage had been broken into they replied
‘That’s good’. They should have made
arrests there and then”.
distance from the BMW garage to the Police station is 5 minutes Muslims informed the Fire Brigade about the
garage fire, but they refused to come if the Police was not there. A Police helicopter was overhead and could
see where the crowd was gathering. The
Police came after the garage was burned.
It seems that the Police will not take the blame on itself”.
seemed three elements in the riot: those aggrieved by the earlier stabbing;
some outside elements from other Northern towns, and a criminal element seeking
to take advantage of the chaos”.
seems that pubs and clubs were targeted”.
did the Police not consult the local Muslim institutions?”
Police called in from outside did not know the Bradford community”.
Events of Monday 9th July
“Fifteen minutes before my Uncle’s
pizza place in Holme Wood was attacked
I phoned the Police to tell them that white youths were grouping outside
and shouting abuses. The Police did not
seem interested. The white youths then threw stones and smashed the
windows. When the Police arrived, I offered
to identify the culprits, but the Police refused to act. Another Asian gave the Police the
registration number of the white youths’ car, but the Police instead threatened
to arrest him. A white neighbour
videoed the attack and told the Police, but this was not followed up”.
Observations on the situation in Bradford
“The issue is one of education…the standards
have dropped in both white and non-white estates….when children come back from
school there are no leisure centres, no libraries where they could be occupied,
so they mess about in the streets”
(Mr Abid, Claremont Road Mosque)
are estates, even white-only estates, where there are no facilities, no
clinics, no schools…. We need steps for better education …..we need
character-building and moral education in schools””
(Mr Umber, Claremont Road Mosque)
are schools with 100% Asian children but all teachers are white...there is
resistance to the election of even one Muslim governor”
(Mr Ismail, Claremont Road Mosque)
have gained a bad reputation…. We need to improve parenting”.
(Mr Abid ,Claremont Road Mosque)
is blame on both sides….parents have not educated their children…children are
ill-educated and unemployed and hang around street corners …there is a drug
mafia involved…we have a large proportion of youth in these areas who can be
easily exploited…we need steps for better education”.
(respondent, Claremont Road Mosque)
problems are related to the drug culture.
Police seem reluctant to act in case of being called racist”
(Mr Mughal, student)
is very poor contact and integration between the Muslim and white youth”.
(Mr Ilyas, unemployed)
Views of community leaders
are apprehensive and worried…there is an attempt to show Muslims are not a
peaceful community, always challenging, who will never integrate…crimes are
being committed by a very small minority so the whole community is tarred”.
is wrong to pinpoint any single factor – it is multidimensional: identity
crisis in youth which makes them angry and abusive, for a very small minority;
underachievement; lack of parental control; a strong sense of insecurity
leading to alienation and despondency”.
has been a systematic approach by public institutions and the law and order
authorities to isolate and segregate the Muslim community and then project them
as a cause for problems and trouble-making”.
contact with the Police is restricted to participation in Ethnic Minority
community liaison committees”.