15% increase in race attacks in Northern Ireland

The “depressing and shocking” development of Belfast as the “racist capital of Europe” has been exposed by the UK’s leading anti-fascism campaigners. BELFAST: THE RACIST CAPITAL OF EUROPE(uk)For Searchlight magazine has highlighted the “appalling surge” in attacks against ethnic communities – in a 10-page special investigation, The Silent War.Reporter Matthew Collins has uncovered the seamy underbelly of paramilitary-inspired violence – revealing that racist incidents have increased by 15pc in Ulster, in the past year alone. According to PSNI figures, a total of 746 crimes with a racial motivation, were committed in the province between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. Among the shocking statistics are 25 threat or conspiracy to murder crimes, 238 woundings or assaults, 69 cases of intimidation or harassment and 351 incidents of criminal damage.The worst racist hot spots in Ulster are Belfast, Dungannon, Craigavon and Ballymena. Relatively safe towns for migrants including Larne, Banbridge, Strabane and Limavady.Possibly the most worrying aspect of such a surge in violence against ethnic minorities is the fact that a whopping 87pc of race crimes are not reported to the police first. Said Matthew Collins: “Racism is rising fast in Northern Ireland. Racist incidents have increased by 15pc in the past year. But it is the growing ferocity and systematic nature of these hate crimes that is shocking. “In the very streets that, for so long, have been divided by sectarian and religious conflict, the province is now earning itself a new reputation as the racist capital of Europe.”In Searchlight’s extensive expose of race hate in Ulster, it tells a number of stories, including that of Catholic woman Marie, who married an Asian takeaway owner. She revealed that she has been subjected to a terrifying threat, after covering her head, in deference to her husband’s parents. Explained Marie: “A man walked straight up to me and yanked at my head scarf and said ‘get that off your f***ing head, you f***ing slut, or I swear to God, I’ll kill you and your whole f***ing family’ and just walked off.”Added Marie: “Sonny (her husband) tries not to see or hear what is happening here. But it really is obvious to me. I want to move to London. Things there could never be as bad, as here.” And the racist attacks keep happening. Just last weekend, two Asian men and a police officer were injured and properties damaged in Dundonald and Lisburn. Windows were smashed and fireworks were set off during a series of attacks on homes in Lisburn last Sunday.The previous night, a PSNI officer was injured, after going to the aid of two Asian men, who had suffered facial and rib injuries, at the hands of racist thugs in Dundonald. Searchlight magazine editor, Nick Lowles called its findings “depressing and shocking” and said that loyalist paramilitaries, in particular, were “increasingly turning to racism”. He warned: “While there have been real and tangible improvements to the lives of ordinary people across Northern Ireland, there can be no accommodation with racist and fascist activity.”© The Belfast Telegraph http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/———————————————————————————————

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