Letter: Tackle racism by losing racial tags

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his letter (22 June), Randhir Singh Bains bemoans the "splitting up of composite Asian identity", blaming "religious polarisation" resulting from, among other things, the publication of The Satanic Verses. This book was but one factor which has prompted Muslims of all races to unite under the umbrella of Islam. Mr Bains should consider seriously the alarming racist attacks against Muslims from the pro-Rushdie lobby and the less than stringent non-Muslim Asian voices in support of Muslims, and then look closer to home at the reasons for an ineffective anti-racist movement. In that particular case, many anti-racists emerged as anti-Muslims and religious hatred replaced the racial variety.

Only by getting rid of racial tags such as "white", "Asian", "black" et al can we begin to get rid of racism. This is what Nelson Mandela and the government in South Africa are trying to do, hence his "Rainbow People" quip at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup. In the Sixties film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Sidney Poitier's character says to his father: "You think of yourself as a black man; I think of myself as a man." If Mr Bains and others so afflicted started to look at themselves as men (and women) first, not Asian, black or whatever, perhaps others would too.

Yours faithfully,

Ibrahim Hewitt


22 June