Race chief warns of 'fire on the streets'

Britain's race relations watchdog has suggested there could be "fire" on the streets of the UK unless racial tensions are eased.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said polarisation on racial and faith grounds "cannot get any worse" in many British cities. He said the row about Muslim women wearing a veil could become a "trigger for the grim spiral that produced riots in the north of England five years ago".

Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Phillips said that some wanted an inquisition against British Muslims - while some Muslims were overly sensitive to neutral remarks.

He echoed James Baldwin, a black American writer who predicted civil strife in 1963, saying: "God gave Noah the rainbow sign. Said no more water, but the fire next time."

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