“Ghettos”, “No-Go Areas”, “Race Riots On Queen’s Doorstep” screamed the newspaper headlines last week as a Muslim owned dairy near Windsor castle became the latest victim of Islamophobic hysteria.
Windsor has one of the smallest Muslim communities in the country. There are no ghettos there.
A distribution depot belonging to Madina Dairy became a target for racists after stories were circulated that a mosque was going to be built nearby.
The truth is somewhat different. The owner of Madina Dairy offered to convert a derelict building next to his depot into a community centre after a Muslim group was having problems finding a venue for weekend classes. The new centre would have included a prayer room.
Nadia el-Hamay of the Windsor Arab Women’s Group told a local paper that she had been trying to organise cultural classes for Muslim children.
But schools were unavailable and other facilities were either unsuitable or too expensive.
The group approached Windsor and Maidenhead borough council for funding, but was turned down. After all other channels were closed, Madina Dairy stepped forward with a proposal to fund the community centre.
This was widely misreported as plans to build a new mosque in a largely white area.
Planning permission was refused on the grounds that the centre would cause parking problems. But the proposal turned the spotlight on the dairy.
Zafar Ali of the Slough Race Equality Council told Socialist Worker that the “scare stories gave a group of five to ten youths the green light to attack the dairy”.
This developed into a stand-off between the gang and half a dozen members of staff. This confrontation was then splashed across the press as a race riot.
Zafar said that controversy over the centre has been blown out of all proportion and does not reflect local sentiment towards British Muslims.