Ansar Ahmed Ullah :: Bengali community, anti-racist activist and Tower Hamlets Council will observe Altab Ali Day on Thursday 4 May to mark a day of permanent commemoration in recognition of the death of Altab Ali.
The 1970s saw the rise of far right National Front and a constant stream of racist attacks. The terrible murder of young leather garments worker Altab Ali in Adler Street, Whitechapel in 1978 marked a turning point and the Bengali and other communities rallied together as part of the growing, vocal and defiant anti-racism movement.
Altab Ali Day is now a poignant and important date in the annual calendar on which to commemorate the life and untimely death of this young man. It pays tribute to the legacy of tolerance and unity and the stance against fascism that resulted from this crime.
Altab Ali Day will consist of a wreath laying, poetry readings and speeches from invited dignitaries. The event takes place from 6pm. Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said, ‘Altab Ali’s murder and the subsequent demonstrations was a tragic but important moment in our borough’s history. The united community response showed that people in the East End will not tolerate division, discrimination and bigotry. Nearly forty years on and that message of community cohesion and of residents of all backgrounds standing united against racism is just as relevant.’
Other events related to Altab Ali Day include an exhibition organised by Tower Hamlets Council, Images of Resistance, which opens at the Kobi Nazrul Centre on 4 May and runs until 4 June. The show contains work created during and after 1978 by three local artists; Paul Trevor, Phil Maxwell and Tom Learmonth. It documents the strength of feeling at the time and the power of photography to capture this pivotal moment in the history of the East End. On Friday 5 May, the Osmani Centre in Underwood Road will host a book launch at6.45pm for ‘Racist Murder of Altab Ali’ edited by Nobab Uddin which has been organised by Janomot and supported by the Altab Ali Foundation. There will also be a film screening of the play The Altab Ali Story at the London Bengali Film Festival on 20th May at a venue in Tower Hamlets.