Asians fighting back at racism

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The Independent Online
A six year study of racial violence and hostility in a tough northern town has found Asian youths fighting back. Criminalogy lecturer Colin Webster will today tell the conference that the sons of mainly Pakistani immigrants had made two areas of K eighley, Bradford into no go areas for white youths.

They had gradually expanded their domain and sometimes formed gangs to attack white youths. ``Racial violence has declined, but at the price of an increase in segregation," he told the Independent yesterday.

Mr Webster, of Bradford and Ilkely College, said the centre of Keighley, an industrial satellite of Bradford, was in effect a curfew zone for youths of Asian origin after dark because of their fear of being attacked by white youths. The Asians had becomemore confident and assertive. White youths were now too frightened to enter two out of the four areas where the town's Asian population was concentrated, he said.

Mr Webster surveyed more than 400 boys aged 13 to 19, half of them Asian and half white and overwhelmingly from the lower socio-economic groups. He also talked at length to a smaller number who gathered in loose gangs. He found his subjects on the streets and through youth groups; local schools refused him access. He found 40 per cent of the white youths claimed to have been victims of racial attacks by Asians, compared with 33 per cent of Asians claiming to have been subjected to racial attacks. The threat of violence was a normal part of daily life and both races expressed the same level of resentment and fears about the other.

The different races had virtually no social contacts. The white youths regarded the Asians as threatening and generally favoured by school teachers and authority. Only one-tenth of the young people he spoke to admitted to taking part in a racial attack, and they mostly claimed it was done in revenge or self defence. The perpetrators of racial attacks were likely to be involved in crime such as car theft, burglary and drug taking, and to have been suspended or expelled from school.

Mr Webster said police crime statistics from Keighley also suggested racial violence had declined. Conflicts usually took the form of abuse, chases, kickings and beatings, although there was one non-fatal incident during his study when a screwdriver was stabbed into someone's skull.