Tom Smithard, Yorkshire Post, January 8, 2008
A clash of cultures between Asian and eastern European youths is leading to increasing tension and violence on Yorkshire’s streets, it is claimed.
Some young Britons of Asian descent are now leading a campaign of intimidation against the new economic migrants from eastern Europe, whom they claim are taking their jobs.
The situation has become so bad in cities like Bradford that a leading social think-tank has begun research into how to get the two sides working together.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has commissioned Bradford-based organisation QED to identify the causes of tensions between the two groups and improve cultural understanding and communication between them.
In the introduction to the project it states: “The newly-arrived central and eastern European migrants have settled within five of Bradford’s most deprived communities, which have high percentages of ‘settled’ ethnic minorities.
“There are problems of local cultures clashing and major misunderstandings of each other’s backgrounds and ways of living.”
Project director Mohammed Ali told the Yorkshire Post: “The European Union expansion has had an impact on the number of jobs going to those in the ethnic minority communities—it’s easy to bring in outsiders who will work for less but we run the risk of leaving people behind.
“We’re looking at the causes of tension and ways of bringing the groups together. Communication is the key to these things—we want to look at opportunities to bring people together to share each other’s cultures and backgrounds and experiences.”
While most of the crime between the communities goes no further than verbal threats, car vandalism and petty fights, little gets reported to the police because of the traditional eastern European wariness of authority.
One Asian scholar at a Bradford mosque, who did not want to be named, said: “A lot of Polish people are coming into Bradford at the moment and unfortunately we’re seeing Muslim boys breaking their windows. They’re complaining that the Polish people are coming in and taking their jobs.
“They’re taking out their aggression on the newer immigrants for what they’ve had to suffer themselves in the community for years.”
Writing on an internet forum about a recent problem of eastern Europeans selling fake gold jewellery in the city, bank worker ‘Amir’ said: “Our parents worked very hard, they had two jobs at a time, with no benefits.
“They suffered racism and other hard times—but these Polish people are causing mayhem on the streets, illegal driving, drugs, crime, harassing women.”
Haqueq Siddique, who runs the West Bowling Youth Initiative project in one of the more deprived wards in Bradford, said: “I hear about these issues and tensions but I don’t see them.” There were tensions “but it’s nothing major”.
Ewa Sadowska, co-ordinator of the Polish charity Barka UK, said: “We hear stories about intimidation of Polish people every day.
“There’s a high level of crime against Polish people, and I’m sad to say, a lot have been described as living in conditions like pigs.
“About two million people have left Poland since May 2004, many coming to Britain, and about 20 per cent of them were ill-prepared.
Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said: “We’ve been accused of being racist in the past but this proves that the problem with immigration is not about race but about numbers.
“We cannot cope with the numbers coming in from eastern Europe, it places huge tensions in communities, it puts pressure on housing, health services and schools, and as we’re seeing, creates all sorts of problems.”