Preston, Lancashire: Race hate capital of England?
The papers have their say
Another year, another 'race riot' in Northern England – another innocent caught in crossfire. The deceased’s parents grabbed the first picture they could find, so we now remember Shezan Umarji as a suave young man all dressed up in a suit. Unfortunately, his end came in a disgusting spectacle of mindless hatred.
This has raised a spectre of Preston as the race hate capital of the UK. The Sunday Telegraph tells us that the race crime rate in Preston is 3.8 per 1000 – this may not seem significant, but when one considers that it is higher than the Midlands and West Yorkshire (where the terrorists of 7/7 came from); it is indeed worrying.
Clearly, any discussion of or solution to these problems must include the Muslim youth our (Northern) towns and cities contain. By many accounts, things are worse than previously – the Sunday Times on August 6th ran an article describing that way the second generation of British Muslims has become highly politicised and considerably more so than the previous generation.
A denizenís view
I live in Blackburn, which is (literally) within spitting distance of Preston and not all that different to Preston itself. I also spend roughly half my time there, and I will say this first: it depends on where you live. No–brainer, right? I, for one, (and anyone who knows me will vouch for this) quite enjoy my time here – most streets are clean, people are friendly, there are quite a few pool–halls, cinemas and gyms to occupy anybody.
But there are problems – the North–West is one of the most deprived areas of the country, and it’s visible in certain areas. Different folk live separate lives. Even pretty girls tend to stick together. But then that’s another blog entry. The divisions can sometimes be so stark that even within the wider ‘Asian’ community (people from the Indian subcontinent), Hindus and Muslims live mostly separate lives.
However, the incident that resulted in Shezan Umarji’s death was a simple but tragic incident: two people got into a fight, people joined in to ‘help’. The fact that it took on a racial aspect shows the racist views of some of those individuals, but mostly the alcohol that most of them had industriously imbibed all day. I would say there was and is a problem in that particular estate owing to certain individuals, but I do not believe for a moment that there is problem of racism in Preston or East Lancashire that is disproportionate to the rest of the country. In general, alcohol + mob mentality = make usually sensible people fight whatever is in front of them. That’s it.
In fact, the only systematic problem here is poverty. This is what needs to be addressed – as it is being, somewhat slowly.
So there you have it – it’s not so grim up North. Don’t be afraid to visit us. Pleeeeeze!!!