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Extremists attempt to ignite fury

They have been blamed for displaying one of the cartoons of the Prophet in Oldham, says Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 19:41 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

Extremists are being blamed for putting the cartoon which sparked protests and violence by Muslims worldwide at a house colony in Oldham, which was hit by race riots in 2001 when youths from the mainly Muslim Asian community fought white youths.

The cartoon showing explosives in the turban of the Prophet could have had serious repercussions as large number of Muslims marched in London again.

An inquiry has been ordered. According to the BBC news the First Choice Homes - which runs the town's council housing - said the matter had been reported to police. Steve Yorke, its director of Management and Operations, said many staff had been offended by the cartoon.

"They were upset and angry but it's our job to demonstrate to all staff that we will not tolerate offensive literature, we will not tolerate posters of this kind which are designed to divide our staff and set staff against each other in whatever way shape or form," he said.

Oldham Council said the cartoon could be part of an attempt by right-wing extremists to increase tension ahead of council elections in May. Chief executive Andrew Kilburn said, "Working in a diverse community such as Oldham, we are constantly aware of the need for vigilance against groups who would wish to exploit controversy for their own ends. We will respond very firmly, as will all our partners, to issues which cause offence and which seek to damage the community cohesion for which we have worked so hard."

Greater Manchester Police said they were treating the incident "extremely seriously" and were worried the incident could affect "community cohesion". A spokeswoman said, "Greater Manchester Police treat any incitement of racial hatred extremely seriously and robustly investigate any such incidents that are reported to us."

First Published: Feb 25, 2006 19:41 IST