Thursday, April 14, 2005

Loathsome racist tactics

It was reported in yesterday's Grauniad that Mal Hussain, the Lancaster shopkeeper and victim of continual vile racist abuse for 14 years has finally sold his shop and moved.
Over the years, Mr Hussain has recorded more than 4,000 separate incidents, including a firebomb and being shot at with live bullets on two occasions.
One bonfire night, a petrol-soaked mattress blocked the shop door. His shop was wrapped in razor wire and barricaded with grilles and steel shutters.
During the 1990s, Craig Wareing, a notorious local racist, was jailed for terrorising Mr Hussain. He was later banned from entering Lancaster for life.

Mr Hussain said: "It has been 14 years of hell for both Linda and I. I have always stated that I would not be driven away from my successful business, built through sheer determination and despite all the attempts by racists to undermine it and force us to leave Ryelands.

"I feel betrayed and failed by the institutions who are supposed to protect those who suffer in the hands of racists.

"I relentlessly campaigned against the attacks I have experienced because racists cannot be allowed to get away with their acts of violence and harassment.

"This is a sad day for us, because we feel we have been pushed into a corner and options removed from us."

Lee Jasper, secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism, said: "In the last year, Mal has been looking for ways of leaving Ryelands, having come to the end of his tether with the constant nature of harassment he has been experiencing.

"However, despite reaching a settlement, Mal has had to sell the Mini Market at a cutdown price.

"This case represents one of the most serious and sustained acts of racist violence in recent history."
The piece goes on to quote a defence solicitor for someone alleged to have racially abused Mal Hussain
"If one is abused occasionally, one can take offence.

"But if one is abused for four to five years, one becomes immune to it. It is like water off a duck's back."
Really. Is that so? Is it not more likely that an occasional case of abuse can be treated as the exception and the abuser condemned as an ignorant exception but regular sustained abuse coming from across a community is even more damaging to any sense of self worth or of belonging to a community? "Immune" to consistent and regular verbal and physical abuse and violence. Really. Is this defence any different to saying "everyone was racially abusing Mal Hussain so my client's abuse was nothing special and my client should therefore be acquitted"? Loathsome in the extreme.

In the current election campaign the Tories and the gutter (in the gutter and definitely not looking up at the stars but possibly in the gutter and looking up stars' dresses) press are going for a xenophobic anti immigrant and anti immigration vote. That's the sort of thing that leads to cases like that of Mal Hussain. That's the sort of thing that must be stopped.

Pooter Geek mentions
a story about Tony Blair during the ultimately victorious 1997 Labour General Election campaign. (Remember, this is when people were still referring to him as “Bambi”.) Perhaps in a bit of a panic about polling figures, the Tories had decided to play the race card as a last gasp measure. One of his aides asked Blair what he was going to do about it. He is supposed to have said, “Nothing. If that’s the kind of government the voters want then fuck ‘em”. So, if Howard’s is the sort of government you want, then fuck you too.

Here endeth this comment.

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