Petr Torák rejects media reports of tensions between Pakistanis and Roma in England
News server Novinky.cz published a report on 7 November alleging that conflicts between Pakistanis and the Romani minority are on the rise in England. Petr Torák, a Romani community member who worked in England for many years as a police officer and who is dedicated to working with minority communities, has rejected the reports as misleading and untrue, telling news server Romea.cz that he is shocked about what he see as the deceptive way in which the media are reporting on the situation.
"The British newspaper The Guardian, which is the source for Novinky.cz's reporting, has a good reputation, and that is why I am shocked they have published something that is so false. I will be asking the Mayor of Peterborough and the leadership of the local authority there for a statement that corrects the record," Torák, a former police officer and MBE, told news server Romea.cz.
"I also want to invite journalists to come see the facts for themselves," Torák said. He is currently working as an external consultant for the Council of Europe and is the director of the COMPAS Charity.
Romani people as a media subject
At the end of September, according to media reports, an incident happened in the northern English town of Sheffield in which a Romani girl allegedly pulled a Muslim girl's head scarf off during an argument in the school cafeteria that led to a brawl. In the brief video footage of the incident that has been published on social networks, the screaming of children can be heard as they do their best to flee the scene of the fight.
Police had to intervene to calm the situation. Both The Guardian and Novinky.cz allege that conflicts with the Romani community are happening in other English towns as well.
Torák, however, rejects the claim that a growth in conflicts involving members of the Romani minority has been documented. One of the towns where The Guardian reports that problems are happening is Peterborough, where Torák is active.
The former police officer said he considers the coverage of these incidents to be a false alarm. "Absurd articles like that absolutely do not correspond to reality," Torák told news server Romea.cz.
"Even the photograph used for the Novinky article is very misleading. The dump that is shown in that image was not created by the people living in the caravans that are parked nearby, but Novinky is giving its readers that impression," he explained.
What's more, the Czech and Slovak emigres to England who are ethnic Romani do not live in caravans in England. Torák has also objected to a five-year-old quote by a former British politician, David Blunkett, that has been recycled by The Guardian in its current reporting; the former policeman rejects the idea that Blunkett's cheerless vision of problems in coexistence among different minority groups is now somehow coming true.
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