Tuesday, 2 February 2010

My report in Northern Echo

Muslim children barracked and cars vandalised by teenagers in Bowburn

MUSLIM children are suffering racist abuse walking to and from a North-East school, a community leader has claimed.

Maszlee Malik, a Malaysian Muslim, said his children and others had been barracked by teenagers in Bowburn, County Durham.

Three childrenhave also been vandalised within two weeks, he said.

“It has been happening for a long time and we didn’t want to make a noise about it. But when we keep quiet, it’s encouraging them to do it again and again.

“It’s mostly teenagers. I think Bowburn is a nice place, but these few incidents might leave some small scars.”

Mr Malik, a 35-year-old married father-of-four, has lived in Bowburn for nearly three years.

He plans to return to Malaysia after completing his politics PhD at Durham University, where he is president of the Islamic Society.

About 40 Malaysian student families live in Bowburn, with smaller Arab and Chinese communities.

Mr Malik said: “We hoped we would come and live peacefully and co-exist in a conducive environment.

“This is giving a distorted vision of British society. We know that this has been done by a tiny minority of people.

“They’re against us, but they’re also against their own community.”

Mr Malik praised the efforts of Lynne Lyons, headteacher of Bowburn Junior School, to encourage integration of different ethnic groups, saying she had done a brilliant job.

Mrs Lyons said the school valued every child and adult equally.

The school employed County Durham’s first Malaysian Muslim teaching assistant to encourage inter-cultural play and its curriculum includes studying “the child in the world”.

“Community cohesion is at the heart of this school’s improvement plan,” Mrs Lyons said.

Councillor Mac Williams, who represents Bowburn and is the only black member of Durham County Council, said he was surprised to hear of the abuse.

But Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Anderson said he was aware of the vandalism and an officer had revisited the victims to reassure them.

“We take these acts very seriously and will not tolerate any racist behaviour,” he said.

“At the moment, we do not have any suspects, but are making a number of inquiries to identify these offenders.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Durham Police on 0345-60-60-365.

source: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/crime/4779149.___Muslim_children_targeted_for_abuse___/

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