Anti racists held a vigil in south London this afternoon, Sunday, in the wake of a vicious attack on Friday night which left a 17 year old Kurdish-Iranian asylum seeker from Croydon fighting for his life. Doctors say he is in a critical condition.
People in South Croydon have been left shocked by what police are treating as a possible hate crime. Six people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
The attack left the victim with a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain. It took place next to a bus stop opposite the Goat pub, on the end of a row of shops in the south London borough.
Lisa's house overlooks the bus stop. She told Socialist Worker that there have been fights since the pub changed ownership last summer. "We've lived here for three years but there's never been anything like this," she said.
Shop workers spoke of how the attack has shaken people in the area. "17 years ago things were a lot different around here but things have changed so it's come as a shock to everyone," Olwyn told Socialist Worker.
The 2011 census showed that of the population of Croydon, some 350,000 people, over 50 percent are non-white, and over 8 percent are Muslim.
Croydon has a history of the Nazi British National Party trying to establish a base there, but years of anti-fascist organising and migration to the area have choked off their oxygen supply.
Purbita, who also lives in the area, said, "We don't have any problems, the area is generally ok. I've never heard of a racist attack around here and I've lived here for over ten years."
Brian Richardson from Stand Up To Racism told the vigil, "We have to recognise that this attack has taken place in the context of a pattern of increasing racism.
"It has taken place in the context of millions of people fleeing wars. Our government is responsible for many of those wars."
Imam Suliman Gani from South Croydon mosque was at the rally in the town centre. He spoke to Socialist Worker about the hypocritical way the media reports attacks depending on the ethnicity or religion of the perpetrators.
"When an attack happens like that on Friday it's portrayed in the media as the work of individuals and young thugs," he said.
"When MP Jo Cox was murdered, her killer Thomas Mair was described as a troubled individual when he had links to the fascist Britain First.
"But if the attacker happens to be Muslim we're expected to apologise. We're pressured to issue press releases saying we condemn it, but it had nothing to do with us."