Issue 268, Friday 26 August 2011 - 26 Ramadan 1432
Meacher commends Muslims in Oldham
By Aishah Ali in Oldham
Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham West and Royton, commended the Muslim community for their achievements in Oldham ten years on from the 2001 disturbances.
Speaking to an audience of two thousand Muslims at the UK Islamic Mission’s national convention on July 24, he praised the ethnically diverse Oldham Council and the role played by the Muslim community during the elections. He said, “I’m very glad to say that in the local elections this year the BNP didn’t even stand a single candidate for any seat in Oldham. Altogether I think that sends out a very powerful message that Oldham has been successful in sharing this objective and achieving the marginalisation and the squeezing out of the far right.”
The Oldham disturbances in 2001, which sent reverberations in other Yorkshire cities, caused major concerns and led to the publication of the Ritchie report which blamed racism and segregated communities. However, these causes were dismissed by the Council which claimed that many of the problems were as a result of poverty and social exclusion.
“The situation has improved dramatically,” Meacher told The Muslim News. “There have been huge improvements in education and housing and a difference in atmosphere.” Moreover, Muslims currently make up just over 18% of the councillors in Oldham.
He stated that although stereotypes still exist the “attitudes towards community cohesion has increased, but still needs to go up.” In order to further improve on this achievement extra effort from all segments of the community is needed. The Muslim community in particular “is already doing a lot of the things it needs to do,” Meacher commented when he was asked what they could do to enhance their engagement.