One of the most vicious recent attacks was on the home of a Muslim family in Craigavon. A gang of up to ten men armed with baseball bats threatened to burn the family out; they have since left the area.
THERE HAS been an undeniable rise in racism in Northern Ireland, whether it’s bullying in schools, graffiti, vandalism or physical attacks.
A recent report into racial prejudice in Northern Ireland said that racism in the country is now twice as common as sectarianism. A statement from the Equality Commission reported that racial attacks stand higher than those in England and Wales at 16.4 per 1,000 of the population – compared to the 12.6 in England and Wales.
In Craigavon, there has been an ongoing dispute concerning the building of a mosque in the nearby Bleary area.
Since then, a group calling themselves the White Nationalist Party, who have also been active in Ballymena (which saw the homes of Filipino nurses attacked by youths) Lisburn, Lurgan and Portadown, have been putting up leaflets opposing the building of the mosque declaring that this is ’Ulster not Islamabad’.
The leaflet goes on to say that the building of a mosque will lead to Al Qaida fundamentalists operating in the area. This is a typical move by far-right groups to stir up people’s hysteria post September 11.
Organised attacks are also taking place in Belfast. The home of a South African family in south Belfast was attacked by a pipe bomb; luckily nobody was injured in the attack.
The police have stated that there have been up to 226 racially motivated attacks reported between April 2002 – April 2003 from 185 the previous year.
It is clear that racism in Northern Ireland is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
What is needed is active education amongst the young and old alike. There needs to be open forums and constructive workshops between ethnic minorities and local communities, in order to begin building better relations and to help dissolve myths about both sides, which the fascists use for their own ends.
From this there can be strong links built between community organisations, trade unions and ethnic minority communities in order to drive the fascists from the areas.
There needs to be active vigilant campaigning in areas to stop the distribution of fascist literature and to organise to defend homes against attacks.
These groups also need to build united struggles for better conditions in the areas and for decent wages. It is in places with poor living and working conditions the world over where fascists have taken root.