Brawl may be linked to racist 'revenge'

PUBLISHED: 14:25 18 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

POLICE today refused to rule out a link between a mass brawl outside an Ipswich supermarket and a backlash against the terrorist attacks in America.

POLICE today refused to rule out a link between a mass brawl outside an Ipswich supermarket and a backlash against the terrorist attacks in America.

Although Suffolk Constabulary refused to elaborate on the reason for the fracas, the fight in Asda car park, Goddard Road, is believed to have involved young men of Middle Eastern and European origin.

However a spokeswoman for police in Ipswich did confirm that racial tension was not being ruled out as a motive for the fight between the gangs.

The ugly brawl comes in the wake of a series of racist incidents across Britain amid fears of a reprisals against Muslim communities.

Today the chairman of Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource Cliff Reed condemned the attacks and appealed for calm.

"It is very sad when people take out their anger on innocent people," said Mr Reed. "It is important for people to realise that the majority of Muslims condemn what happened in the United States as a flagrant denial of the teachings of Islam.

"Everybody feels upset and angry about what happened but we have to control our feelings and not take things out on people who basically have nothing to do with it."

Five Ipswich men, aged 16, 17, 27 and two aged 15, were arrested and released on police bail following the fight between 9.30pm and 10.30pm on Sunday.

Officers are keen to hear from witnesses to the brawl and today reissued their plea for people to contact them.

"We are continuing our investigations. We can't say at this stage (what the catalyst was) because we don't know but we can't rule anything out," said a spokeswoman.

"As a result of the incident seven men, all in their late 20s were admitted to Heath Road Hospital, Ipswich where they are currently receiving treatment for injures including broken bones.

"None of the injures are believed to be life threatening."

Police are trawling through CCTV video footage from cameras belonging to Asda and McDonald's, that was the only outlet open at the time of the violent disturbance.

Elsewhere a mosque in Greater Manchester was damaged in a suspected arson attack last night and in London several mosques have been daubed with graffiti and one Afghan taxi driver paralysed from the neck down after he was beaten up in London.

In Swindon two white men pounced on a 19-year-old Asian woman and repeatedly hit her around the head with a baseball bat in what police have described as a " totally unprovoked and cowardly attack on a member of the Swindon community, who just happens to be a Muslim."

And police in Arizona have questioned a man after an Indian immigrant who owned a petrol station was shot dead on Saturday, apparently in retaliation for the World Trade Centre disaster in New York.

Frank Roque, 42, was reported to have shouted "I stand for America all the way" as he was arrested.

Relatives of the man who was shot dead, Balbir Singh Sodhi, 49, said that the fact that his petrol station was not robbed suggested he was attacked because of his appearance. He was a Sikh and wore a turban.

Anyone with information about the incident at Asda should call Ipswich Police on 01473 613500 or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111.

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