LONDON: Forty-five per cent of the victims of racial attacks in Britain are Indian, says a study which also claims that such violence is spreading in the country due to the government’s approach towards racism.
The report, ‘Racial Violence: The Buried Issue’, released this week by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), analysed 660 cases of racial attacks in Britain which took place in 2009.
The observation revealed that certain groups of people are particularly at risk: ‘dispersed’ asylum seekers, newly-arrived migrant workers, those who look Muslim and/or work in isolating trades such as taxi-cabbing, food take-aways, small shops and eateries.
Some other key findings are: Eighty-nine people have lost their lives in attacks with a racial element since the murder of a black youth, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993. And the victims of attacks are overwhelmingly Asian (45 per cent), Black (18 per cent), and migrant workers (10 per cent).
The report also found that in 80 per cent cases, men are the victims and nearly a third of the attacks took place at weekends when perpetrators were often under the influence of drink and drugs.
The IRR report reveals that the map of violence has changed quite dramatically since studies were first done a generation ago, when primarily areas like Southall, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham witnessed the most racial attacks and murders. Such areas are now, in part through struggles against racism, more “at ease” with their diversity.
However, racial violence is on the rise in towns, cities and villages which are only now beginning to change demographically – with the arrival of asylum seekers, migrant workers, overseas students, and the natural movement of settled BME (black and minority ethnic) families from the larger conurbations, it says.
The IRR report questions the government’s assertion that racial violence is linked to new migration.
“The government’s line that community tension is based solely on new immigration to the UK is partial and opportunistic. The UK is now witnessing an ever-expanding mosaic of different racism based on different local conditions.
“And politicians themselves are responsible, through their neglect of poor disadvantaged areas, policies including the demonisation of certain groups and rhetoric around the war on terror, for creating, particularly in areas where competition over scarce resources is keenest, a climate in which racial violence will flourish. The drastic economic cuts of the new government can only make things worse,” the report said. It suggests that the government should have an unbiased debate on racism to quell violence.
“Whilst the main parties are in denial about the extent and severity of racial violence and popular racism (unless it manifests itself in lost votes to the British National Party) their racist domestic and foreign policies and the terms of the race debate – that immigration is indeed a problem, that British jobs are for British workers – are helping to fuel the misinformation and disaffection that can lead to such violence.”