As the Gulf War drags on, Philip Parr looks at racist groups trying to exploit the situation on the home front.
night and threatening to bomb her house. Obviously somebody had just looked up her name in the phone book. Similar threats have been made against shops owned by Husseins. Kids at school who were once called Pakis are now being called Saddam.‘
There have also been examples in Leith of poster and sticker campaigns around the area’s schools, proclaiming BNP policies. ‘The BNP is definitely inciting children to racial hatred,’ Lal continues. ‘There were school children with BNP stickers in their exercise books. They hadn’t been given them, they’d bought them. Can you believe
i '- " Peace campaigning starts at an early age.
stickers, posters and T-shirts.
» a "'< 'Z-‘b’iv ‘5') F
ur Boys’ (The Sun) are tramping across the desert together with the allies to ‘kill some lraqis’ (US General, Colin Powell). While it is occasionally suggested there may be a few unpleasantries before this conﬂict is over, you do get the impression that war is basically about having fun. On the home front, the tabloids are having the time oftheir lives promoting Falkands-style jingoism. The Union Jacks draped across the front pages of The Sun and The Star, coupled with the singling out of the Iraqis for vitriolic attack, evokes memories ofthe neo-fascist rallies ofthe early 70s.
All this plays into the hands ofthe British National Party which is made up of remnants of the various right wing groups that came under the blanket banner ofthe National Front in the 705. Internal rancour coupled with the emergence of Thatcher‘s alternative right wing doctrines contributed to the demise of the BNP in the 80s. The party, however, has proved tenacious and now produces two magazines, The British Nationalist and Spearhead in addition to various
There have already been tales of harassment in Scotland since the onset ofthe Gulf War. As elsewhere in Britain, several Iraqis in Glasgow and Edinburgh have been legally detained. but there is also evidence of clandestine activity by the BNP. The senior officer at the Lothian Racial Equality Council, Mrs Saroj Lal. explains some ofthe problems which members of the Asian and Middle Eastern communities have been facing.
‘We had a phone call from a woman called Mrs Hussein.’ she says, ‘who had been terrified by somebody phoning her up in the middle of the
PHOTO: COLIN CHALMERS
that? These racist organisations are very clever, and their magazines are very well argued. Even I
l (Mrs Lal is Indian) read them and think ‘is there
something wrong with me?’ — that’s how effective
There are, however, plenty of positive achievements which the anti-racist groups can claim. As a result of Campaign For Racial Equality pressure, the police now have their own, wide-ranging definition ofwhat a racist attack is and they publish annual statistics on the subject. Meanwhile, local councils are working with anti-racist organisations to combat the problem in housing schemes and schools.
The Home Office minister, Angela Rumbold, is so worried about the potential for a rise in extreme right wing activity in the climate fostered by the tabloids that she has sent a communique to all of Britain’s race relations offices urging extra vigilance throughout the war period. But for as long as the press persists with its diatribes against Iraqis, Mrs Lal believes that the situation will remain very delicate.
‘The tabloids are there for sensationalism,’ she says. ‘They have highlighted individual views of Muslims in Britain against the war and that creates prejudice. Plenty of Muslims may want peace — but I don’t see anything wrong with that. The media coverage of the war has helped to prejudice people against the black community generally and against Muslims in particular. The media should be a lot more careful in how it covers the war, because creating racial harmony is more important than finding a sensational
An y racial harassment can be reported to Strathclyde Community Relations Council. [15 Wellington Street, Glasgow 04] 2276048 or Lothian Racial Equality Council. 12a Forth Street. Edinburgh 031556 0441.
I One encouraging development amongst the general gloom oI arts cot-backs is this week’s announcement that Scotland is to have its own contemporary dance school and at least two toll-time prolessional modern dance companies. A new policy document lrom the Scottish Arts Council promises three-year lundlng tor Dundee Rep Dance Company and support lor ‘another, more innovative company.’ The adventurous programming at the Third Eye Centre’s New Moves season, and Tramway, are also singled out lor praise.
I SCOTLAND’S REPUTATIDN on the international lestival circuit is set to increase it proposals tor a photography lestival can be made concrete with secure lundlng and sponsorship. The Scottish Arts Council has agreed to otter £22,500 as part at an initial package at lunds to launch the Festival, which would take place in either Autumn 1992 or Spring 1993. The SAC hopes that, in line with the lorthcoming single European market, such a lestival would strengthen links between the Scottish and International photography circles.
I DESPITE SUFFERING lire damage to the tune of £1 million less than a lortnight ago, Teviot Row Students' Union in Edinburgh has already opened to the public, albeit in a reduced lorm. It is thought that the Debating Hall and main bar, which were worst attected, will be closed Ior several months. The building, which is the oldest purpose-built student union in the country, is used during the Edinburgh International Folk Festival and as the Fringe Club during the Edinburgh Festival each summer.
‘A very great man once said you should love your enemies and that ‘ s not a bad piece of advice. We can love ’em. but by God that doesn‘t mean we are not going to fight ’cmf General Norman Schwarzkopf deciding not to turn the other cheek
‘Edinburgh is a prissy, tight-arsed town with an ugly soul.’
Jonathan Miller reveals why he mm be the next Festival director.
‘I would hate people to think of IIlk‘ as a jack ofall trades. I think I am master ofall vocal styles. Except maybe for Elvis, there has never been anybody so versatile.’
Tom Jones offers a modest piece of self— analysis.
‘lt’s as if the engine for a moped was fitted to a Rolls Royce.‘
Sports commentator A rchie Macpherson on the successful attempt by First Division teams to restructure the Scottish football league system.
‘1” went down to Cramond, set up a tent and danced around in a grass skirt, there is no doubt that I would qualify for a grant from this council. ' Conservative councillor Moira KIWI on Edinburgh District Council '5' decision to increase next year's cultural budget by I 0 per cent.
"The Sunday Mail will offer free mince and doughballs or a weekend in Forfar. and run a Save The Bridie campaign.’
lack Irvine ofthe Sunday Scot on the forthcoming war of the Sunday tabloids.
4 The List 8 — 21 February 1991