Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Beaten up simply for being an old soldier. That is what we mean by extremism folks.


Imagine the outcry, the calls for new laws and the accusations of hate crime that would accompany an attack by white skinheads on a Muslim man in religious dress returning home peacefully from the mosque. And I would be among the first to condemn such attacks, such hideous extremism damaging our society.

On Sunday evening, a former Royal Marine (and former Labour councillor as it happens) was walking through Bradford to get a taxi home after a drink with friends following Remembrance Sunday events. This man was set upon by three men simply because he was wearing the insignia of his military service and his medals. As I write he is still in hospital.

That same morning, another veteran was walking through a park in Keighley on his way to remember - he too was attacked simply because he was a veteran wearing his beret, his medals and a poppy.

We ask sometimes why we must work hard to discourage extremism. Those veterans and millions like them across the world put their lives on the line to defend us from such violent politics, from such hatred. Yet it is on our streets here in Bradford. So when I read this, I am saddened but less surprised at these attacks and the hatred they display:

A Bradford school is still not doing enough to protect its students from extremism, a new report has found.

Governors at Carlton Bolling College were sacked in July after an Ofsted report rated the school "inadequate".

Inspectors revisiting the school last month said it was "unacceptable" it had "not rectified the situation".

 The answer doesn't lie just in the schools but out in the community. The two attacks, it seems, were committed by teenagers - someone is putting the idea into the heads of these young men that it is OK to attack old men because they are veterans of our armed forces. That person needs to be found and stopped.


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