This film is part of Free


Blood on the Streets. Bengali youth fight back against racism and the National Front after the death of Altab Ali.

1978 23 mins


"They throw bricks, bottles, whatever they can get hold of...": a series of smashing windows kicks off this hardhitting edition of the LWT religious affairs programme, Credo. Racism in the 1970s was widespread, but the Bangladeshi community centred around Brick Lane in Spitalfields, East London was forced to endure particularly horrific and sustained abuse. Known to be a peaceful people, they were apparently singled out as easy targets.

By the late 1970s, East London Bangladeshis were a community under siege, with daily abuse from the National Front, who had a strong presence in the area. But the murder of Bangladeshi textile worker Altab Ali in May 1978 marked a turning point. While the older generation looked to the police to protect them, Bengali youth decided it was time to defend themselves. Supported by the Anti-Nazi League, the Bangladeshi Youth Association organised to fight the racist abuse. This politicisation inspired second-generation Bengalis to demand a better life and improved working and living conditions.