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The Special Relationship pt. III
“Taking Our Country Back…” From???

Part III

In August 2014, Professor Alexis Jay published the report of her independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotheram, South Yorkshire.

The report estimated that between 1997 and 2013, some 1,400 children had been subjected to sexual abuse, including abduction, rape, torture and sex trafficking, and that the perpetrators were predominantly adult men of Pakistani origin.

Est. read time: 8 min
The report was shocking not only because of the nature of the abuse to which that huge number of children, including Asian girls, had been subjected over a sustained period, but because of the evidence that people in authority had turned a blind eye even after many of the victims themselves and others acting on their behalf had alerted the police and Rotheram Council to the abuse.The reaction of many white residents in Rotheram, in Yorkshire and elsewhere in the country, especially organised groups of racists and fascists was that the criminal conduct of the perpetrators could be laid at the door of the entire South Asian community in Rotheram and Yorkshire. Suddenly, they were all held to be implicated and all personally responsible as if in some mass ‘joint enterprise’ with the perpetrators. Britain First, the English Defence League, Yorkshire’s Finest (an EDL offshoot), the British National Party and other fascist splinter groups all stepped up their racist and Islamophobic propaganda, appealing to whites to feel collectively aggrieved and afraid, to join in their blanket condemnation of the entire Asian community and to avenge the abused young women. Familiar and well-worn tropes of race and sex, meaning ‘black and brown men having their way with our white girls’ and worse yet in an orgy of rape, were crafted and bellowed to the white and global majority communities of South Yorkshire by racists and fascists with fear inducing regularity.

Following the publication of the Jay report, the fascists held 14 marches in as many months in Rotheram, each whipping up racist hostility and perpetrating violence against members of the Asian community and effectively placing that community under siege. Women and children were harassed and assaulted, men taunted and verbally and physically abused and the entire community was subjected to vile expressions of racial hatred.
On the morning of 10 August 2015, 81 year old Mushin Ahmed, was savagely set upon, kicked, punched and his head and face stamped upon by two white racists, Dale Jones and Damien Hunt, both 29, as he walked to Mosque, a short distance from his house. They accused him indiscriminately of being ‘a groomer’. He was a Pakistani male in Rotheram and as far as they were concerned that made him complicit in the crimes of those who had been involved in the child sexual exploitation. Mr Ahmed died of his injuries 11 days later. Members of local fascist groups would later gloat gleefully and provocatively about the racist murder of Mushin Ahmed.

Even as a shocked community of whites and Asians were trying to come to terms with that gruesome murder and its implications for human rights, civil liberties and community safety, Britain First was organising yet another Far Right demonstration through the streets of Rotheram. This time, however, the Asian community decided that they had suffered enough at the hands of those fascists. They had hidden away their children, shut up their businesses and stayed off the streets every month since the summer of 2014 while the fascists terrorised their communities under the blinkered eye of the South Yorkshire Police.

This time, they were going to reclaim the streets and exercise their right to protest that year-long fascist onslaught. If the fascists murdered an elderly member of their community as he went about his lawful business and they did not protest, the entire community would be dishonouring him and sending out a message to the fascists that they could continue to terrorise the community with impunity. The Asians were joined by those whites in their communities who also wanted to protest the death of Mushin Ahmed and send a message to the fascists that they were not terrorising the Asian community in their name.

So, when Britain First called for others of their ilk to demonstrate with them, yet again, on Saturday 5 September 2015, the local Asian community organised a counter demonstration under the banner: Rotheram Unite Against Fascism, that brought over 400 people on to the streets, many times the number of Britain First and other fascists marching that day. The police decided to keep the entirely peaceful counter demonstration away from the fascists by containing them in a restricted area and preventing free movement, in a crowd control measure known as ‘kettling’. Anyone wanting to move out of the kettled area, whether to find toilet facilities, water, food, or to get distressed children and elderly out of the claustrophobic crush, was aggressively prevented from doing so by long parallel lines of police. Worse yet, no protester could tell or was told by the police just how long they would remain hemmed in before being allowed to move.

When the Asian protestors were eventually allowed to go home, using a route determined by the police, that route forced many of them to go past the William Fry pub, a place well known in the area as a watering hole for the Far Right. Despite the fact that the police knew the pub and were fully aware that the Far Right typically gathered there in numbers on their monthly demonstrations, they made no attempt to police that venue and ensure that the Asian protestors could walk down that street without being molested or physically attacked as they went home from the counter demonstration. The anti-fascist protesters had racial abuse snarled at them and missiles hurled at them by people in and outside the pub. The fascists abused young children in the most cowardly manner and when adults stepped in to defend them, they started hurling bottles and beer glasses at the Asian group.

The protesters defended themselves against attacks from those fascists, at which point the police intervened in force and arrested 12 Asian men, later charging them with violent disorder.

On 16 November 2016, a jury at Sheffield Crown Court accepted the defendants’ plea of ‘Self Defence’ and acquitted all 12 of them.

Two things emerged very clearly from that case. One was the extent of the fear and relentless harassment the Asian community had endured for twelve months as a result of the activities of the Far Right following the Jay findings. The other was the failure of the police to defend the Asian community against the same and the tactics they used on 5 September 2015 to contain and control the anti-fascist counter demonstration.

The critical issue here is that this level of fascist activity had been visited upon an entire community for over a year, ostensibly out of outrage at crimes committed by serial sex abusers from within that community, with nothing being done about it by the authorities locally or nationally and with the entire nation going about its business either ignorant of it, or as if that racial harassment of an entire community and the monthly curtailing of their freedom of movement had nothing to do with them.

That process of normalising the abnormal, which the South Yorkshire Police is clearly guilty of, and the national media is complicit in, at least by omission, helps to create the context for another fascist murder and one more high profile than that of the Asian elder, Mushin Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed’s murder took place 10 months before the Brexit referendum and amid a national discourse about immigration, terror attacks in France, securing Britain’s borders, enemies of the state without and within, European laws and the constraints put upon Britain by the European Court, especially concerning human rights. Yet, the internal terrorism of fascist organisations and the threat they posed not just to the freedom of global majority people, but to those fighting to uphold the human rights and civil liberties of all of us was totally off the political agenda and public radar.

It was as if, in the eyes of the state and of the majority of the population, the settled global majority communities in our country were no less an aberration than the way they were being targeted by home grown, white terrorists and therefore not eligible to be part of the national conversation, except in terms of being a huge part of the British problem and Britain’s incapacity to be at ease with itself.

It was as if, having come to terms with racist murders, fire bombing, maiming and a host of race hate crimes since the 1950s, Britain had no need to focus on white extremism and radicalisation, or to mount constant surveillance on would-be white fascist terrorists. Acts of ‘terror’ are presumably committed only by Islamic jihadists and those drawn to violent extremism as radicalised fundamentalists.

After all, the British National Party, despite their fascist rhetoric and racist agenda managed to win seats on local councils, even though it is generally understood that elected councillors and members of parliament are expected to represent the interests of all people in the ward or constituency that elects them, not just those who vote for them and support their policies. In 2009, Peter Davies, from the English Democrats party, a Right to Far Right fringe party, was elected Mayor of Doncaster, a position he resigned in 2013.

He is now leader of the Doncaster First Independents Group.


Part IV »

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