Meditating against racism, the Asian way

June 17th, 2008 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkata Vemuri
London, June 17 (IANS) Apart from teaching meditation, an Indian-born teacher of holistic health also prescribes fighting racism - as the rightwing British National Party (BNP) has learnt the hard way. No one may have heard of Sibani Roy outside a coastal town in Wales, but the BNP is beginning to know her. It lost three elected councillors in Roy’s town of Bay of Colwyn just because she did not want the “racist” party to be represented in the town council.

A Ph.D. in medical ethics, Roy, who is in her 40s, runs a holistic healthcare centre in Bay of Colwyn where she educates medical professionals and the general public about meditation for well-being, and raises awareness of living well and dying consciously.

A popular figure, she got elected to the town council last month. And that’s when Roy’s fight with the extreme right began.

Three BNP candidates, John Oddy and couple Paul and Susan Harley, also contested the elections and got a walk-over as no other party put up candidates against them.

Roy told the Asian Lite newspaper that she was concerned about rightwing politics taking root in her own town and she decided to do something about it.

A political novice, she nevertheless launched a campaign to educate people in the area as well as the councillors about the consequences.

“Though there are scattered incidents of racial harassment, Asians live here peacefully and try to integrate with the people. I feared the election of BNP leaders will jeopardise the peaceful co-existence of different communities,” Roy was quoted as saying.

The campaign caught the pubic attention. Anti-BNP posters came up all over the town to mount pressure on the three councillors to either resign their seats or quit the party and remain as independents.

They eventually resigned from the party and remain independent councillors.

Some British blogs say the resignations followed a clash between Oddy and higher ranking BNP members, and a graffiti attack at the home of the Harleys where “BNP racist scum” was daubed on their garage.

Their resignations, coupled with the election of BNP’s Richard Barnbrook to the London Assembly, have once again united the liberals to take up the anti-BNP cause.

Two groups, Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism, will undertake a march against BNP’s so-called racist policies in London Saturday. There will be floats with artistes performing, samba bands, as well as banners of trade unions and student unions.

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