Socialist Worker

Asians get jail for self defence

Issue No. 1825

THREE YEARS in jail. That is the shocking sentence Judge Boulton handed to 28 year old Tariq Saddique, who acted in self defence against a racist mob in Burnley in June last year. He was sentenced in Preston on Monday of this week, along with Mohammed Maroof Bashir who got two and a half years, a 17 year old who got a 12-month sentence, and Asif Kahn who got two years.

Abdul Rahim Kayani and Haroon Ahmed, who pleaded guilty, were sentenced to 18 months and 21 months. The judge said as he sentenced Tariq, 'I want to punish you and send out a message in relation to civil disorder of this massive scale.' This is a disgrace. The defendants stood up against a racist mob, whipped up by the Nazi BNP, who struck fear into Asians, and many white people, living in Burnley.

Those thugs set fire to Asian families' homes and businesses. The Asians knew they could not rely on the police to protect them. The jury threw out most of the charges against the Asian men. And they completely cleared Mohammed Nawaz of all charges. Judge Boulton seized on a single incident involving the police that the jury found Tariq and the others guilty of. He used this to slap down the vicious sentences. As far as he was concerned, 'The actions of any one person must be seen in context of the general disorder.'

The defence team argued in court that the sentences were savage compared to those given to the white men charged after the Burnley events. Then only a tiny minority received three-year sentences for the most extreme incidents of racial violence. Most of the white men received sentences of a few months.

Ahmadis' ordeal

FERIBA AHMADI collapsed during an appeal hearing last week. The Ahmadis are an Afghan family who sought asylum in Britain from persecution under the Taliban regime. New Labour used every force at its disposal to chuck them out of Britain. They used police and courts to drag them from a mosque, force them into a detention centre and then deport them to Germany.

Feriba, Farid and their children, aged four and six, had originally fled Germany after suffering racism during their seven months in detention. The Ahmadis won the right to appeal against their deportation. The Home Office was found to have 'misled' the court over promises for their future wellbeing. The appeal has now been suspended until December.

'Proud of what we did'

BEFORE THE sentencing Tariq Saddique and Mohammed Maroof Bashir spoke to Michael Lavalette, a Liverpool University lecturer. He is researching the events in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford last summer when Asians fought back against racist gangs.

Michael said, 'Tariq said to me, 'I'm proud of what we did, and we would do it again.' The Asian community in that area, and many white people, know what would have happened if no Asians had mobilised that day to protect themselves. Tariq has a job, and now his wife has to shoulder the burden of looking after their two young children. Maroof showed the same brave determination as Tariq. He said, 'I'm proud of what we did. We defended our families and community against attack from Nazis'.'

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Article information

Sat 9 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1825
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