Opinion: London's Asians "Are Not a Ghettoized Minority, Vulnerable to Backlash"

July 7, 2005

Source: NCM/Pacific News Service


On July 7, 2005 Pacific News Service ran an opinion piece by Sandip Roy, entitled "Notes from a Brown Man in London." Roy argues that South Asians in London are not a ghettoized minority, but "a new mainstream." He writes, "[B]eing Asian is no longer quite the threat it used to be. Ten years ago [Ansar Ahmed, an office bearer with the Shadhinata Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving Bangla culture] said, he would worry about going into a pub filled mostly with white people. Not far from here, Aftab Ali, a textile worker, was killed in a racist attack in 1978. Three people were killed and 110 injured in nail-bomb blasts in Soho, Brixton and Brick Lane in 1999, attacks that targeted gay pubs and Asian businesses. Now Asians are everywhere, as newscasters, entertainers, stockbrokers and restaurant workers. Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets, the host borough for the 2012 Olympics, has the most Asian councilors in the country. Now with so many Asians, mostly Muslims, around, Ahmed doesn't see attitudes toward them changing radically, as they did in the United States after 9/11. There, South Asians and Arabs were largely hidden from the mainstream. The image of Osama bin Laden in his turban spawned vicious hate crimes against anyone who looked like him. While hate crimes cannot be ruled out in many parts of England, especially some of the blighted old factory towns, here in Brick Lane, Asians like Ahmed, who has lived here for over 30 years, are the mainstream."