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Sikhs in Birmingham facing racist attacks

The number of racist attacks on Birmingham's 60,000-strong Sikh population is reported to be rising at an alarming rate. They have been targeted more than ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2003 13:49 IST

The number of racist attacks on Birmingham's 60,000-strong Sikh population is reported to be rising at an alarming rate.

Sikhs in Birmingham have been targeted more than ever during the two years since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

According to Dal Singh Dhesy, chairman of the Sikh Community and Youth Service UK, many Sikhs are now too afraid to eat in restaurants, go shopping or take holidays.

"After September 11 some people who saw our turbans jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought we were Afghan Taliban," Dhesy told the local media.

"It seems that we are getting the backlash on all sides -- from the white far right and also Islamic extremists. The rising amount of attacks is very disturbing and people are looking to us to help them."

Dhesy added: "What would help is the creation of racial harassment centres which could monitor inter-ethnic crime rather than just the 'black and white' incidents."

In one of the latest incidents, racists attacked and cut off the three-foot-long hair of a 14-year-old Sikh boy. The victim's family in Edgbaston said the attack had left him traumatised.

Condemning the attack, Gulfram Khan, chairman of the Aston Conservative Party, said: "Fifteen years ago there used to be a lot of friction between Sikh and Muslim youths, but that no longer exists.

"If this is starting to resurface, we need to shed light on this problem because we do not want this sort of nonsense in our community."

First Published: Sep 06, 2003 13:49 IST