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Activists to warn of the risk of “sleepwalking into racism”

Press Release
25/9/2006

The National Assembly Against Racism and UNISON will be hosting a joint fringe at Labour Party conference, setting out an anti-racist agenda for the government.

PRESS RELEASE UNISON/National Assembly Against Racism joint fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference

Anti-racist priorities for the Labour government Tuesday 26th September from 5.30pm Cross St. Chapel, Cross St, Manchester.

Speakers: Claude Moraes MEP; Lee Jasper Secretary, National Assembly Against Racism; Dominique Walker, sister of Anthony Walker; Cllr Afzal Khan, Muslim Council of Britain; Dr. Ludi Simpson Statistician, Manchester University; Mohammed Azam, Unite Against Fascism; Cllr Pav Akhtar, National Race Equality Officer UNISON; Dr. Richard Stone, Advisor to the Lawrence Inquiry & President, Jewish Council on Racial Equality; Flores Sukula, Let the Sukula Family Stay Campaign

The fringe meeting will include Claude Moraes MEP who will provide a European perspective on the current rise in racism and in particular as it impacts on Asian communities in the light of rising Islamophobia.

Lee Jasper, Secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism, will challenge the myth that black communities are “segregating” and need to “integrate”.  Statistician Ludi Simpson will provide academic research which backs up this part of the discourse.

NAAR, along with black communtiy organisations and other equalities campaigners, has been critical of the handling of the equalities agenda which has seen the abolition of the CRE and the establishment of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights without the necessary statutory and representative structures to ensure anti-racism remains on the agenda.

The fringe will also feature a first hand testimony from Flores Sukula, a 20 year old asylum seeker student whose family are currently facing deportation by the Home Office. 

Claude Moraes MEP said: “The rise of fascism across Europe is a warning to us all – there are currently more fascist MEPs in European parliament than there are Black MEPs and fascists are on the rise, holding seats in government across the continent. This has happened due to the continuous hostililities against Muslim communities, migrants and asylum seekers.

&#39In Britain we must learn from this disaster and stop fascists breaking into mainstream politics, but only if we pursue the correct strategy: There can be no compromise on fighting racism in all forms.  That means defending communities under attack, embracing our diversity and ensuring challenging racism is a central priority.”

Lee Jasper, Secretary of NAAR said:  “Racist attacks are increasing nationally and the BNP have gained the largest votes for a fascist party in British history in recent elections. The only way to tackle this situation is to challenge the racist climate which is fuelled by hostilities towards asylum seekers, migrants and Muslims.

&#39Wherever such an approach is taken by politicians, the results are overwhelming support for a positive agenda on multiculturalism and reduction of racist attacks: London has demonstrated this reality over the last 5 years, with year on year reduction on the number of racist incidents in the capital.

Instead, we are witnessing a concerted attempt to attack the reality of our multicultural society. Some policy makers are promoting the counter-productive idea that the problem is self-segregation by black communities, and the solution is a  flawed &#39integration&#39 agenda.

This is the stuff of fantasy. Extensive research shows that black communities are becoming part of British society faster than anyone else. Home Office research after the Burnley riots shows that white teenagers are three times more likely to believe in racial superiority than Asian teenagers.

Divisive messages, such as claims that the Muslim community is not willing to co-operate on tackling terrorism, or that immigration is increasing crime can only feed racist hostilities and division.

We need an agenda that embraces modern Britain as the direct result of waves of immigration for centuries and a positive approach to diversity. Failure to promote this message will lead to economic, social and cultural failures which none of us can afford and gives oxygen to the fascists who are poised to infiltrate the mainstream with their racist poison.”

For more information or interviews please contact Denis Fernando on 07790022472 or info@naar.org.uk

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