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Sat 25 November 2017

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Bradford Disorder
: Istifar Iqbal, 11 months for picking up, but not throwing, two stones; Asam Latif, four years nine months for lobbing six stones; Mohammed Akram, five years for hurling various missiles; Mohammed Munir, four years and nine months for throwing two stones; and Ashraf Hussain, four years for throwing three stones.

By contrast in Belfast, where the stakes are much higher, a first offence of riot gets you a fine, a second a heavier fine or a suspended sentence. According to staff at the Belfast Telegraph, "if the judge was making an example out of you, you'd probably get 30 days for throwing a petrol bomb". To date in Bradford, 46 people have been imprisoned for an average of four and a half years each. What makes their punishments harder to swallow is that most of the convicted have no history of criminality.

The level of charges and harsh sentencing raises the question of whether the Muslim community is being treated fairly. Lawyers say it is rare for police to apply the riot charge (which carries a maximum of 10 years' jail), preferring lesser charges available under the 1986 Public Order Act. Since each charge of riot must have the prior consent of the director of public prosecutions, there is every reason to suspect that these prosecutions are politically driven.

Undoubtedly there were very serious disorders and violent acts as part of the Bradford riot and some of the perpetrators deserved the severe punishment upon conviction. However the case of the relatively innocent is compounded by the home secretary describing them as "maniacs" who should stop "whining" about their sentences. His public berating of people exercising their legitimate right to question the severity of their sentences comes the back of many contentious and ethnically offending remarks including ones about certain communities being swamped by asylum seekers and how ethnics should learn to speak English as a first language.





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