Published September 13, 2016 at 10:31
SELF DEFENCE IS NO OFFENCE – SUPPORT THE ROTHERHAM 12
You are invited to attend a meeting organised by Stand Up To Racism – East Lancashire at 19:30 on Monday 19th September, at Brierfield Community Centre, 21 Colne Road, Brierfield, BB9 5HW.
The main speaker will be Abrar Javid, one of the Rotherham 12 defendants (see below for some background information on the case).
We look forward to seeing you there.
SUTR East Lancs
In 2014, Rotherham, a town in South Yorkshire, was rocked by the “child-abuse grooming” scandal. Although the perpetrators of these crimes included a small group of Asian men, unfortunately a whole community has been tarnished and stigmatised by sensational media reporting and irresponsible comments by some politicians. Worst still, far right groups have seized on an opportunity to parachute into the town to sow divisions and attack ‘multiculturalism’.
That year, the Mirror investigation reported, “white teenage youths prowl Rotherham’s estates, mouthing racist threats, and the market town has become a magnet for right-wing groups like the English Defence League, Britain First and the British National Party”.” In August 2015 the Daily Mail reported that “Muslim grandfather, 81, died after being savagely attacked in the street just yards from his home as he walked to morning prayers at his local mosque”. Faced with this hostility during the demonstrations, the local Asian community have lived in fear and were often forced to remain in their homes or close their businesses and community centres.
Saturday 5 September 2015
The matters came to a head during the last far right demonstration called by Britain First on Saturday 5th September 2015. A counter peaceful demonstration was organised against them and was supported by some members of the Asian community. The Asian community simply wanted to assert their right to live peacefully, without fear of further attacks or restrictions; but particularly to pay respect to and show solidarity with the death of Mushin Ahmed. However on the day the Asian group was hemmed in for long hours in one area as a result of police tactic called Kettling. The tactic involves the formation of large cordons of police officers who then move to contain a crowd within a limited area. Sometimes the protesters are completely prevented from leaving, with the effect of denying the protesters access to food, water and toilet facilities for an arbitrary period determined by police.
The Asian group were only allowed to go home at the end and via a restricted route forcing many of them to pass the William Fry Pub, locally known for its far right sympathies. On the day it was packed with members of the far right including individuals associated with far right groups known for their violence. The Asian group suffered a torrent of abuse and violence as they passed the pub and were forced to defend themselves.
Support the Campaign
The trial of the twelve men has been listed for October 2016 at Sheffield Crown Court. It is important that they are supported and a campaign in their name will be launched locally and nationally to mobilise support for them. The case raises important issues for our society, including:
- The right to live peacefully without fear of racial attacks. Racist incidents against the Asian community have spiralled in the area since 2014. The growth of Anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia needs to be tackled urgently.
- The right to protest is a right that should be guaranteed and defended in a democratic society. In this case the Asian community only joined a counter-demonstration to express their solidarity with Mushin Ahmed, an 81 year old local resident who was killed on his way to the Mosque; as well as to share their frustration at being targeted and tarnished unfairly and unjustly, since 2014.
- The right to defend yourself when facing violence and threats is paramount; this right is fundamental and should apply equally to every citizen in the UK. Given the background to the events and lawful right to self-defence, the 12 Asian men should never have been charged in the first place.