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Thursday, 11 August 2011

British riots test PM Cameron's mettle

LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron, grappling with what could prove a defining crisis of his premiership, will tell parliament on Thursday how he plans to tackle the "sick" pockets of society he blames for Britain's worst unrest in decades.

He is under pressure to soften austerity plans, toughen policing and do more for inner-city communities, even as economic malaise grips a nation whose social and perhaps racial tensions have exploded in four nights of bewildering mayhem.

Cameron has ordered a rare recall of parliament from its summer recess to debate the unrest which flared first in north London after police shot dead an Afro-Caribbean man.

Britain's finance minister, George Osborne, will also address parliament amid concern the rioting could damage confidence in the economy and in London, one of the world's biggest financial centres and venue for next year's Olympics.

With the public seething over the looting of anything from sweets to televisions, Cameron has dismissed the rioters as no more than opportunistic criminals and denied the unrest was linked to planned spending cuts, mostly not yet implemented.

But community leaders say inequality, cuts to public services and youth unemployment also fed into the violence in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other multi-ethnic cities.

"Blacks, Asians, whites, we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another?" said Tariq Jahan, whose son was one of three Muslim men run over by a car and killed while apparently protecting property in Birmingham.

"Step forward if you want to lose your sons, otherwise calm down and go home, please," he said.

Many Britons are appalled at the scenes on their streets, from the televised mugging of an injured teenager to a photograph of a Polish woman leaping from a burning building.

READ MORE > http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/11/britain-riots-idUSL6E7JB0I820110811


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