Clan feud `led to cab-rank stabbing'

Violent Britain: Murders in Luton and South Wales and death in Yorkshir e bring tragic end to Christmas
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The Independent Online
The slaying of Shabir Kahn in Luton was blamed on a "clan feud" by Luton's taxi drivers yesterday.

Cabco, Luton's largest taxi firm, and a consortium of drivers, is polarised along clan lines. Members of the Kahn, Raja, Malik and Butt clans all drove for Cabco.

Business is tough for taxi drivers, too many cars chasing too few customers. Fights and disagreements between the drivers are common.

One young Asian taxi driver said: "It was a clan feud that got out of hand." The manager of Cabco said when she tried to calm the situation she was threatened. Freeda Begum, manager of Cabco, said the feud had been going on for some months.

"They're all from big families and they split into two," she said.

But the young Asian taxi driver said the feud ran much deeper. It resulted from the older generations attachment to tradition and the clan system.

"The young generation was trying to distance themselves from the situation. Nobody wants to talk about it - the younger people just didn't want to know.

"People like me have no identification with all these clans, but the older ones identify you by your clan. The ones my age don't accept it. I have black friends and I have white ones - I just don't want to know.

"Pressure was being put on us to take sides. I got on well with both groups, but you could tell the friction was mounting."

The young driver said: "Maybe it was good that the feud came to a head so soon." He said he hoped they would now stop the arguing and the fighting. "This is nothing out of the ordinary in Kashmir - it's always going on. But it shouldn't be going on in Luton, maybe it will stop now."

Errol Barrett, 29, from Luton, said the town was becoming more dangerous. "It's getting worse and worse. Lots of cars have been getting nicked and now this killing. We had a shooting in a kebab shop around the corner three months ago. There's always beenstabbings around here, but not many murders."

Trouble flared in the town's large Muslim community earlier this year when a man was stabbed at a local mosque.

The death came after many clashes between rival clan factions in the area, which forced the police to intervene.

In March police in riot gear forced their way into the mosque to oust a group of protesters demonstrating in support of a former imam.

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