Hands off Al Bangura!

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17 December 2007

An unusual event took place at half-time during last Saturday's game between Watford and Plymouth Argyle, when thousands of supporters of both clubs stood up holding posters with the picture of Watford mid-fielder Al Bangura.

This was a protest against the deportation threatening 19-year old Al Bangura back to his country of origin, Sierra Leone, after a tribunal turned down his appeal against the Home Office's refusal to grant him asylum status.

Bangura fled Sierra Leone for his life when he was 15 and arrived in Britain 4 years ago, when he made his application for asylum. Thereafter he worked hard to become the footballer many soccer fans know. Deporting him to Sierra Leone would mean breaking up everything he has built here - job, family and friends. And all this because some bureaucrat, in an obscure corner of the Home Office, has decided to pick on him using Labour's arbitrary anti-immigrant legislation.

Soccer was once plagued by the racist insults hurled at black players during matches. It is comforting to see that, for once, the fans have stood up in defence of one of these black players, exposing the fact that the "politically correct" world of the ruling politicians is just as much plagued by racism, if not more.

However, there are many thousands of Al Banguras threatened with deportation these days in Britain, who do not have the luck of being as famous as he is. Labour chooses to break up the lives of these immigrant workers for no reason other than to woo reactionary prejudices, in the hope of retaining the votes of a wavering section of voters. But these immigrants should have every right to stay here, just like the millions of Britons who choose to live in other countries have the right to do so. There is plenty of space for all of us.

It is in the interests of the working class of this country to stand up in solidarity behind all the Al Banguras, whether famous or unknown, against the reactionary politicking of this government!