Campaigners in Tower Hamlets say they ”remain vigilant against the ugly face of racism” as they mark the 40th anniversary of the brutal stabbing of a Bangladeshi garment worker in Poplar.
Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Joint Secretary of the Altab Ali Foundation – set up to remember the tragedy – told Eastlondonlines: “Though 40 years have passed, we have to remain vigilant so that the ugly face of racism doesn’t rise again.”
While Ali was stabbed 40 years ago, there has been a rise in racist and religious hate crimes across London over the past three years.
Hate crimes that include knife crime with injury, have seen a 2.44% increase over the past 12 months. March 2018 saw a 20% rise in Tower Hamlets when compared to the previous month.
Ali, a textile worker from Bangladesh, was fatally stabbed on May 4, 1978, in a Whitechapel park while on his way home from work.
Ali was returning home from work on the night of the local elections, which had seen members of the National Front, a far-right fascist political party, up for councillor seats across the borough.
Following Ali’s murder, 7,000 people took part in a demonstration against racial violence and saw protesters marching behind Ali’s coffin from Alder Street, where he died, to Downing Street, with the demand for the police to provide protection for the Bengali community.
For this year’s event, there will be wreath laying, speeches, poetry and a performance from Tower Hamlets youth arts programme ‘A’ Team Arts.
The Reverend Prebendary, Alan Green, chair of Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum, said: “Despite his murder forty years ago Altab Ali’s name lives on – a symbol of the determination of the people of Tower Hamlets to overcome racism and live in harmony with mutual respect.”
“Such determination is still required to maintain those values, in his name, to make clear that Tower Hamlets has no place for hate.”
Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “Altab Ali’s terrible murder reminds us that we should never forget the importance of community cohesion and the need to stand united against racism.”
To read more about the events planned for the anniversary of Altab Ali’s death, click here.