Socialist Worker

Campaigners call unity vigil in east London after vicious acid attack

by Miriam Scharf and Rob Ferguson
Issue No. 2532

Barking in east London, where the attack took place

Barking in east London, where the attack took place (Pic: Julian Walker/Flickr)

Activists in east London are organising to make sure their area is not divided by racism.

They held a vigil on Tuesday of this week following an acid attack on a Pakistani food courier.

Imran Khan is still in shock from the attack he suffered earlier this month in Barking.

He was delivering a pizza from the business he runs when he was surrounded by a large group of youths and young men.

They shouted Islamophobic abuse and demanded food. “They were calling me ‘Paki’ and things like that,” Imran told Socialist Worker.

He passed over the pizza, which was thrown back in his face. The group then demanded money amid a further torrent of racist abuse.

A passer-by called the police and the group ran off. Imran had to return to the same road to make another delivery when he was targeted by two youths.

They squirted the acid through his car window, over his face and eyes.

“I was in real pain, with burning all over,” said Imran.

“A man from the local shop rushed out and poured water all over my face otherwise it would have been far worse.”


He added, “To be honest I feel emotional and angry. I feel that the attack and everything that has happened to me is because of my religion and my race.”

Imran suffered burns to his face and neck and was hospitalised as a result of the attack.

Other delivery firms in the area told Socialist Worker that they regularly suffer racist and Islamophobic abuse.

Imran is worried that what happened to him could happen to other people too. He asked, “What could they do to someone who was more vulnerable?”

Newham Stand Up To Racism called an anti-racist vigil on Tuesday with Barking and Dagenham Trades Council and the National Union of Teachers.

Council leader Darren Rodwell was set to speak.

Campaigners in the area have shown before that racism can be beaten back here.

In 2006 the fascist British National Party (BNP) won 12 council seats in the borough.

But after a mass campaign the BNP lost every one of the seats four years later.

A month later BNP candidate Richard Barnbrook failed in an attempt to get back onto the council.

Today there is a filthy climate of Islamophobia and racism being whipped up by press and politicians. We need to organise locally to take this on.

What happened to Imran cannot be allowed to stand.

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Article information

Tue 29 Nov 2016, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2532
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