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Everyday stories from post racial Britain

Britain in the 20th Century

Violent racism still plagues our communities. Will cuts to police budgets mean that investigations into racist attacks lose its priority as the police struggle to manage their budgets?

Violent racism in the UK is mistakenly thought to be a thing of the past. The reality is of course quite different and the effect of racism on its victims can leave them both degraded and severely distressed.

Take the case of 77-year-old widow Sakina Bili Ali, who runs Warsi Foodstore off-licence, in Leyland Road, Burnley. She found her car and shop daubed by racist graffiti in the form of a swastika.

Mrs. Ali son’s car, parked outside her shop, was set alight as she was subjected to a determined attempt to force her out.

Mrs. Ali, whose neighbour describe her as ‘an absolutely lovely neighbour’ has owned the shop for 30 years,

Mrs. Ali who lives in the above the shop flat, said defiantly:

“I’m upset by what has happened. But I can forget about the spray now it has vanished. I’m not scared by it.

“I have been here a long time and nothing has ever happened before.

Showing remarkable bravery and determination this frail old lady is determined that whatever happens she will not be moved.

“I don’t understand why it has happened. It is a close neighborhood here and everyone that comes in is friendly and I’ve had no trouble with anyone.

“But if they come back then maybe it is just my time. I’m not scared of death.”

“My daughter came banging on the door saying the car had been set on fire.

“I’ve asked all the neighbour but nobody seems to have heard or seen anything out of the ordinary.”

Mother-of-four, Natalie King who lives opposite the shop said that this incident had made her consider moving house.

Natalie said:

“She is quiet but lovely and everyone get on with her.

“It has really upset my children and made them frightened.

“I thought that we were moving to a family area but there is just trouble here.

“After this weekend I think we will be looking to move house.”

Neighbour Kurt Stephens said: “I come to the shop every day.

“She is an absolutely lovely neighbour. I hope they catch whoever did this.”

In a separate but equally disturbing incident Muslim graves in Leeds were vandalized.

Damaging headstones at Leeds cemetery designated for Muslims is the type of racism designed to cause maximum distress.

It means that the families are forced to confront racism that targets their deceased relatives.

For these victims racism extends beyond the grave.

For the second time this year more than 20 graves were damaged at Harehills Cemetery. The damage includes broken name plaques and headstones.

Chief Inspector Melanie Jones of West Yorkshire Police said:

“This incident has caused a great deal of distress to a number of people in the local community and an investigation into the damage has been launched.

“Over the weekend we have worked alongside community leaders to identify and contact the next of kin of those whose graves have been affected by this mindless act of vandalism.

“We have also undertaken a full forensic examination of the scene, including a number of discarded items that were found in the area, as well as analysing local CCTV.

“At this stage the incident is being treated as a racially motivated crime and we are determined to catch those responsible”.

Racism crime continues to blight people’s lives, threatening them with violence and misery. Mrs. Ali response is typical and her dogged determination not to be intimidated by racist cowards is to be commended.

However, the question is what are the authorities doing about this type of racism?

In the context of current cuts to policing budgets the policing response to victims of racist attacks could see an increasing number of these types of investigations being deprioritised as police services are forced to make choices about what types of crime remain a priority.

Both incidents are being investigated by Police as racially motivated crimes.

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