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Saturday, 14 April 2007

Blacks to blame for violence: Blair

Wading into one of the final controversies of his 10 years in power, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has ignited a fury by blaming a distinctive black culture for a rash of knife and gun crime in London since the start of the new year.

Admitting he was "lurching into total frankness" in his final weeks in office, Blair was quoted yesterday beneath a banner headline in The Guardian as saying the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it."

Blair's comments were met with blanket condemnation from community leaders, who told the Toronto Star they felt "sideswiped" by the prime minister's suggestion that they alone bear responsibility for the issue. One accused Blair of "dishonestly attempting to absolve himself from the chronic lack of support for community efforts to create solutions."

"I am infuriated. Nobody in the black community is denying there is a problem. Even I acknowledge we have our `iffies.' We have a problem with our young kids, a very small minority of whom are out of control with knives and guns," said anti-gun campaigner Cheryl Sealey, co-ordinator of the London-based Victim Aid.