May 17, 2007

United on screen in war on racism

Faith groups across Redbridge have joined forces on the TV screen to take a stand against racism. A video entitled Rise and Fall Of Racism has been produced for Redbridge Racial Equality Council (RREC) and was officially launched last week at Redbridge Town Hall.

Satnam Singh, of RREC, said: "Reports of racist incidents were said to have gone up in schools, but recently we've found they've fallen generally. We're not sure if it's because racism itself is falling or whether people just aren't reporting incidents. That's what this film aims to do - raise awareness of the need to report racism. It also provides a chance to hear different views on the problems."

But among the contributors is Hainault British National Party (BNP) Cllr Julian Leppert, who gives his view on racism problems locally. Cllr Leppert said: "The result is pretty much how I expected it to be. People have an obvious agenda. I guess I'm on it to make it more interesting and spice it up a bit. It mentions the Stephen Lawrence case, which is now 14 years old and for which no one was ever caught, yet down the road in Barking a few years ago, a white man called Christopher Yates was killed by three Asian men, yet this doesn't get a mention."

Mr Singh said Cllr Leppert had been approached about appearing in the video in order to ensure it was balanced. Other contributors in the film include Redbridge Council leader Cllr Alan Weinberg, Redbridge Police Chief Insp Carl Lindley as well as members of different faith groups, including Jagdev Purewal of the Punjabi Centre in Ley Street, Ilford.

Mr Purewal said: "I spoke about two things - one was about wearing a turban and being called a Paki. It's youngsters that do it, as they don't know the difference between a Pakistani and an Indian. But I also said about how relations between faiths are improving. I've attended numerous weddings between black and white people as well as mixed-faith weddings."

Raj Channan of Ilford Hindu Centre in Cleveland Road, Ilford, also comments on the video. Footage is shown of Cllr Weinberg saying he "detests" the BNP and of an anti-BNP rally in neighbouring Barking and Dagenham.

The 25-minute film is being made available to community groups and schools, which already look at racism issues through citizenship lessons. Mr Singh said: "We hope to have a web link of the video available by the end of the month, so people can watch it themselves. It's all about raising awareness."

Ilford Recorder

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