THE BIG ISSUE RACE RELATIONS: Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

Byline: M J Alam

I AM totally British and entirely Bangladeshi. This is the point Home Secretary David Blunkett and people like him miss.

Until he and others can grasp that concept we will never progress into the peaceful, harmonious society that we all dream of.

I agree that fluency in the English language is a key to learning, communication and better understanding of each other in this country.

But it is too simplistic to attach the lack of English language skills to the riots that started this summer in Oldham.

Intensive English classes are fine for those people newly arrived from non-English speaking countries and the older generation who have not had the opportunity or inclination to learn English.

The people who were involved in the riots in the northern cities were not fathers and mothers or grandfathers and grandmothers. They were, on the whole, youngsters who had been born and brought up in Britain and gone through the British education system.

For far too long the settling communities, and particularly the Asian communities, have experienced the brunt of British racist violence and vandalism. …