Warning over UK race riot danger

Trevor PhillipsThe polarised debate over full-face veils could spark race riots in the UK, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality has warned. The debate surrounding the issue “seems to have turned into something really quite ugly”, Trevor Phillips said. “This could be the trigger for the grim spiral that produced riots in the north of England five years ago,” he told the Sunday Times.

Mr Phillips said a “gentle, nuanced” debate was needed. On Mr Straw’s comments, Mr Phillips told the Sunday Times Muslim leaders had been “overly defensive” in attacking the Blackburn MP.

Massoud Shadjareh, from the lobby group the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told BBC News 24 that “ministers after ministers after ministers” had been attacking the Muslim community recently, which was unfair and “not a means of respectable dialogue”.”I have to say the Muslim community really has been extremely calm, and extremely responsible,” he said.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General, Muhammad Abdul Bari, said the integration debate had become “increasingly shrill and ugly”. He accused Mr Phillips of having a “poor track record” on this issue and criticised him for not mentioning recent attacks against Muslims which “accompanied this so-called debate”. Mr Abdul Bari said: “We have seen veils being forcefully pulled off Muslim women, a number of mosques subjected to arson attacks, and Muslim individuals, including an Imam in Glasgow, badly beaten up by thugs.”

BBC News, 22 October 2006