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Racism in the North - it's the Loyalists and the British stupid!
30th December 2003
The Xmas and New Year period in the North saw a sickening rise in ferocious and brutal racial attacks in the Village area of South Belfast. Immediately before Xmas two Chinese families and one of African descent fled their homes following attacks. In one of the incidents, the gang broke into a house and assaulted two pregnant Chinese women and broke a man s nose by smashing him in the face with a brick. Windows were broken in two other houses in the area shortly afterwards. A Chinese family with week-old twins was in one of these houses. In the run-up to the New Year the racists returned and burnt out the homes of a Pakistani family and of a Romanian family. The area concerned is dotted with graffiti praising Combat 18, a neo-fascist British group. African families have been forced out of the area in recent months. In a parallel development there was a public campaign to prevent a mosque being built in Portadown, a campaign marked by the most blatant racism and accompanied by vicious intimidation that saw a number of Muslim families forced from the area.
All the political parties and a number of campaign groups condemned the attacks. Almost all without exception failed to state the obvious reality of an organised campaign co-ordinated by Loyalist gangs. In Portadown the campaign goes well beyond the Loyalists, with a local councillor close to unionist leader Trimble leading the hate campaign. As with sectarianism before, racism is treated as something that infects the air in the North. A balance is preserved by suggesting that everyone is equally racist or sectarian. Sections of the left recently tried to build an anti-racist campaign by signing up the UDA and UVF front organisations!
Following the recent attacks there was one arrest of a local loyalist who was quickly released. The issue goes well beyond state inaction. The UVF is heavily involved in intimidating the Chinese community. The South Belfast brigade of the UDA has been involved in a sustained series of sectarian attacks over the same period. One man, a Protestant married to a Catholic, is attempting to bring the RUC/PSNI on the grounds of their inaction after 30 attacks on his home. At the same time the local UDA brigadier is raking in over 1 million in community grants provided by the British.
The Good Friday agreement, supposedly a route to a settlement, has actually bred higher levels of sectarianism and racialism. Criminal attack is treated as community conflict. The police actually offer to mediate in negotiations with sectarian attackers. The fact that republicans, trade unionists and the left support this nonsense and fail to identify the role of the death squads and of the state is a real barrier to genuine anti-racist action.