Manzoor Moghal, chairman of The Muslim Forum, Leicester, opines on the city’s new lockdown:
…within a few weeks, I noticed that many – particularly workers in the local textile factories that provide so much local employment – and in the densely-packed markets where a lot of Asian food is sold, had given up observing social distancing.
They were carrying on with their pre-coronavirus lives as if nothing had happened.
Partly this happened because there seemed to be little enforcement from the police and the authorities.
And why would that be? Would it be because people like you wig out whenever the authorities try to enforce the law?
With the help of a large immigrant community, the city has clung on to its textiles industry – there are believed to be about 1,000 garment factories here, many of which could accurately be described as sweatshops.
Roughly half the population is non-white, and the majority of black and minority ethnic residents come from the Indian subcontinent – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The majority are Muslim, but there are thriving populations of Sikhs and Hindus, too.
It’s a country within a country. And did you think the reason they came here was to escape the conditions of their home country? Good lord, no. It was to recreate them:
There is little respite at the end of workers’ long shifts. Many are here illegally, which means they have no employment rights and are forced to live in tiny terrace houses, sharing rooms and bathrooms with many others.
It is not particularly unusual to find 20 people living in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house.
It hardly helps that many speak little English…
So basically we’ve imported a little bubble of the Third World and expected it to change. But it doesn’t want to. It wants to continue as it is. And it’s engineered the conditions to do just that.
Why did no one in authority ensure that the basic safety rules were upheld in shops and in factories?
While the police lectured dog-walkers for venturing out too far to beauty spots, they seemed to allow sweatshops to operate without batting an eyelid.
It’s the way you seemingly want it, or you’d have cleaned up your own mess. What has the Muslim Council done about the lack of ambition, drive and basic hygiene in its congregation?
Is the answer ‘nothing’? Then why should anyone else do it?
How, then, do we get out of this mess?
I believe we need a concentrated effort in all urban areas to create Covid-19 task forces comprising the council, police and various communities – groups with genuine local knowledge. They should meet or liaise on a daily basis.
In other words, more talking shops for the likes of Manzoor Moghal to lobby for more taxpayer cash to be thrown down the drain.