Belfast demo against racism
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Belfast yesterday
demanding an end to racism.
Representatives of all political parties, including
representatives of the unionist paramilitary UDA and UVF,
attended the rally.
Racist attacks in south Belfast and the Craigavon area have
been blamed on orchestrated campaigns by the main unionist
paramilitary groups, something which their political
representatives have denied.
The rally in Belfast city centre yesterday saw hundreds of
men, women and children from a wide range of backgrounds
arrive at the city hall to voice their opposition to racially
The crowd of several hundred held placards and banners with
messages such as "Don't be Blind to Racism" and "Stamp
The rally was organised by the Anti-Racism Network in
conjunction with the trade union movement.
The demonstration was organised after a series of attacks
against Chinese, Asian and Filipino members of the community
in areas such as south Belfast and Craigavon.
Political representatives at the event included Sinn Fein
President Gerry Adams, the SDLP's Alex Attwood, Michael
McGimpsey of the UUP, and the PUP's David Ervine.
Jamal Iweida, president of the Islamic Centre in Belfast,
encouraged people to live in peace with one another.
"Racism is equivalent to sectarianism and we should all fight
against it," he said.
"The overwhelming majority of people here are nice, friendly
and welcoming. It is just a very small minority who are not.
"Regardless of our religion, our colour, our tradition, we are
"We must show the whole world that we can live together
peacefully and united against any type of racism and
Civil rights campaigner Eamon McCann said: "The fact that we
met on Holocaust Day should remind us what racism can lead to.
"These incidents are on a scale altogether different from the
conflagration of hatred which led to the murder of Jews in the
Nazi concentration camps.
"What we have to remember is that these incidents are the
sparks which, if not snuffed out, can lead to such a
"The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland aren't
racist, and it is also true that racism is not confined to one
community. But it is all around us," he said.
Speaking from the event, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said that all
of those in political leadership had "a duty to stand up
against the racists and the bigots who were bring terror to
the ethnic minority communities in the city".
Mr Adams said: "On countless occasions in the past I have
joined rallies in this city to demand Human Rights and Civil
Rights. Today's event is no different. The Ethnic Minority
Community in this city are part of our fabric and they must be
defended and protected.
"Their rights as citizens must be upheld and they must be
allowed to live their lives in peace without the threat of
racist attack or abuse."