2 November 2014 Edition
Racist attacks rise
BELFAST may not deserve the title given to it by some mainstream media of “Race Hate Capital of Europe” but a racist attack reported almost every day in the Six Counties carries extra impact in such a small geographical area.
Back in 2004, there was an intense campaign of attacks on people from central and eastern Europe and Africa living and working in the North. The Ulster Defence Association (linked to British neo-fascist groups) was considered responsible.
In 2014, it is the other unionist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force, that is responsible for the majority of racist incidences.
Ashan Parhiar was the victim of an orchestrated attack on Sunday 12 October in which his car and home were smashed. He says he no longer feels safe in Belfast.
The Parhiar family were targeted repeatedly in a campaign which began in August just after they moved into Bray Street in the unionist Woodvale area, just hundreds of yards from the loyalist self-styled ‘civil rights’ camp at Twaddell Avenue.
Ashan Parhiar, an EU citizen born in Pakistan, moved his wife child back to Pakistan a number of weeks ago as he feared for their safety.
In previous incidents, on Friday 19 September, two Hungarian men were assaulted by a gang wielding knives and a hatchet.
The gang followed the pair into the unionist Hesketh area, where they threw a bin at the window of a house occupied by other Hungarian residents.
On Saturday afternoon, the same gang threatened more Hungarian nationals at a second house in Hesketh Park.
The response of unionist leaders has been muted.
Recent PSNI figures show that the rate of racist attacks is increasing with over 300 incidents reported since April 2014 alone.