Tuesday, 15 May 2012

“Sex grooming case is race-related”: Equality Commission Chairman

Claiming that race was not a factor in the Manchester sexual grooming case is “fatuous”, the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said.

Trevor Phillips told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the fact that the victims were white and their abusers were Asian must not be ignored.

He said it would amount to a “national scandal” if authorities failed to intervene in such cases for fear of “demonizing” the Muslim community.

Echoing comments made by Mohammad Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, Mr Phillips added that the “closed community” the men came from may have turned a blind eye to their activities, either out of fear or because the girls were from a different community.

The gang of 9 men, ranging in age from 24 to 58, were convicted in Rochdale last week of sexually abusing the vulnerable girls – one as young as 13 – after plying them with drinks and drugs.

Judge Gerald Clifton told the men that they had treated their victims as “worthless and beyond all respect” at least in part because “they were not of your community or religion”.

Police officials and politicians have insisted that race was not a factor in the case.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and one of the most prominent British Asians in Westminster, said: “There is no excuse for this kind of criminality, whoever is involved in it, but I don't think it is a particular group of people.”

Speaking after the men were convicted, Steve Heywood, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police said: “It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men.”

"However, in large parts of the country we are seeing on-street grooming, child sexual exploitation happening in each of our towns and it isn't about a race issue.”

Mr Phillips had a different view: “Anybody who says that the fact that most of the men are Asian and most of the children are white is not relevant – that's just fatuous.

“These are closed communities essentially and I worry that in these communities there are people who knew what was going on and didn't say anything, either because they're frightened or because they're so separated from the rest of the communities they think 'Oh, that's just how white people let their children carry on, we don't need to do anything’.”

- Vijitha Alles


Raghu declares Diamond Jubilee concert “Amazing”.

A thrilled Raghu Dixit declared he had “kicked some serious ass” following his historic performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Windsor Castle on Sunday night.

The Hey Bhagwan singer was joined on stage by a dozen dancers performing a routine created by Raghu’s wife Mayuri Upadhya: the contemporary dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Bangalore’s Nritarutya Dance Academy.

Speaking to The UKAsian after the performance, Raghu said: “It’s the first time that my wife and I have collaborated on a project and it was an amazing experience to bring it all together in front of the Queen.  We definitely kicked some ass!”

The event, titled All The Queen’s Horses, was an international, theatrical extravaganza meant to celebrate the Queen’s standing in the countries of the Commonwealth as well as her lifelong love of all things equestrian.

Some 556 horses from across the Commonwealth – from those serving with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to India’s famed Marwadi horses – joined more than 1000 performers, including Rolf Harris, Susan Boyle, Helen Mirren, Sanjeeve Bhaskar, classical quartet Il Divo, Country musician Abigail Washburn, South African performers from the West End show The Lion King and, of course, Raghu Dixit in celebrating the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.

“It was awesome, superb, memorable, a milestone.  It will be etched in my memory forever”, Mayuri said.  “Visually, it was amazing.  The performers, the horses, it was just a phenomenal event.  We were definitely not prepared to experience what hit us.”

As the dancers took to the stage - elaborate designed to resemble Buckingham Palace - alongside myriad Rajasthani puppets and with dozens of gallivanting horses before the stage, Raghu - resplendent as usual in his traditional get-up - gave a stirring rendition of Mysore se Aayi.
It was a typically exuberant performance by a man whose very presence at the event spoke volumes about his phenomenal popularity in the UK.

Raghu, Mayuri and the other performers were greeted by the Queen and Prince Philip prior to the event.  “The Queen was exceedingly polite and courteous and she thanked me for coming all the way from India for the performance, which was very sweet of her”, Raghu says.

Asked about his impressions of the monarch, he added: “The Queen has a tremendous amount of energy.  I had a completely different picture of her.  Normally we expect someone in her position to be stoic and quite grave but she just came across as the grandma next door!”
‘All the Queen’s Horses’ will be broadcast on ITV1 on June 3.

-    Vijitha Alles

Photo Credit: Press Association

Visa appeals to be scrapped for family visitors to UK

Foreign nationals will not be allowed to appeal if their visa application to visit family members is rejected, the Home Office has announced.

A new law – which will come into force in 2014 – will remove the right of appeal for those visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.

Applicants will instead be expected to re-apply for a visa at a cost starting at £78.

According to the Home Office, the number of appeals from those wanting to visit family living in the UK has risen to almost 50,000 a year, with failed applicants accounting for nearly 40% of all immigration appeals.

This, the department says, is "burdening the system and diverting resources which could otherwise be used to settle asylum claims and foreign criminals' deportation cases".

Ninety-five per cent of decisions on fresh applications are taken within 15 days, whereas the appeals process can last up to eight months.

Immigration Minister Damian Green told the BBC: "We are not stopping anybody visiting family in the UK. If an applicant meets the rules they will be granted a visa.

"However, it is grossly unfair that UK taxpayers have had to foot the huge bill for foreign nationals who, in many cases, have simply failed to provide the correct evidence to support their application."
Labour's Commons Home Affairs Commitee chairman Keith Vaz has criticised the change, arguing it will stop relatives coming to the UK to attend family occasions.

"It is a system that works and it gives people the opportunity of challeging decisions," he said.
But Mr Green told MPs the current system of appeals was "an absolute goldmine for immigration lawyers".

The new legislation still requires parliamentary approval but an interim measure will reportedly be put in place beginning this July.

-    UKAsian Staff