I spent ten years teaching English as a foreign language during the years when there was mass immigration into the North of England. To begin with we encouraged Asians to come. They were willing to do the jobs we were not prepared to do. It was mostly the men to start with and as they earned enough to buy homes they sent for their wives and children.
When the realization hit the indigenous populations that in some places they were being out numbered, racism took hold.
The children I taught were a pleasure to reach. They wanted to learn, were never rude or difficult. I talked to them about my religion. They told me about theirs. I went to theirs weddings. They came to my house for tea.
I took the girls swimming and taught them about sex with the permission of their parents. None of them were in any way militant to start with but as they faced abuse and often physical violence from racist thugs masquerading as political parties they became more self aware and assertive.
Anger breeds more anger. we could see it growing and could do nothing to stop it.
These children held British passports. Their parents were entitled to vote. Once, several teachers from the school stood outside the polling booth to give safe passage through a howling mob.
I was subjected to abuse both verbal and physical and once I was spat at..and called a Paki lover.
These Muslims were not militant then, it happened as result of the way they were treated. It had already started to happen when I left Rochdale in the eighties.
On my leaving day they made me a feast. Food was brought, songs were sung and dances danced. It was lovely. At the end the Imran came to say goodbye. He told me I was too good to be British. I wept then and now at what had caused those sentiments to be uttered.
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