23 October 2003 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Unionist reprimanded for anti-Muslim comments


Ulster Unionist councillor Fred Crowe has received a written warning from party leader David Trimble after he made anti-Muslim comments on a BBC news programme.

Crowe - who is facing investigation by the PSNI for the remarks - stated on a BBC programme that Muslims were "out to wipe out Christianity". The programme was highlighting a recent upsurge in racially motivated attacks in the Six Counties.

In response, a joint statement was issued by a group representing hundreds of individuals and 17 different organisations, including the Belfast Islamic Centre and the Chineese Welfare Association. The Anti-Racism Network statement calls for Crowe's immediate resignation. An official complaint has also been lodged by the Six-County Council for Ethnic Minorities, which has called for an investigation by the Equality Commission and disciplinary action from the UUP.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has warned Crowe "not to make any other comments on the matter".

This is the second time in the last few weeks that David Trimble has been forced to intervene after controversial comments were made by a member of his party. Recently, Newtownabbey UUP man Ivan Hunter sparked outrage when he claimed that sectarian tensions in the Carnmoney area were the creation of the Catholic Church. The remarks came only hours after the PSNI warned a local parish priest of loyalist death threats against him.

Crowe came to prominence during a recent row over the location and construction of a Muslim Mosque in the Craigavon area. The Mosque was to be built on a disused field in the countryside but immediately came under fire when local unionist councillors, including Crowe, publicly opposed the project.

"A Mosque would devalue the area and introduce people to the area who don't actually live there," Crowe warned gravely, although claiming he opposed the Mosque purely on environmental grounds.

In the interim, racist death threats were made against local leaders of the Islamic community, and both physical and verbal attacks on Muslims, their children and their homes increased.

White supremacist groups like the British National Party and the even more extreme White Nationalist Party papered the area with racist propaganda.

By the time planning permission was eventually granted for the Mosque, eight Muslim families had been forced to flee the area.

The most recent racist attack occurred only a week ago, when a young single mother and her two children were forced to leave their Craigavon home after a late night attack on their house. The Muslim family had a brick hurled through their window around 11.30pm on Friday 16 October as the mother was sitting in her living room. Her two children, aged two and four, were asleep in bed at the time.

In August, a mixed-race family was forced to leave the same area after a mob armed with iron bars and baseball bats threatened to burn them out of their home in the predominantly loyalist Enniskeen estate. According to recent reports, racially motivated attacks in the North have increased by 769 percent between 1996 and 2003.

The Islamic community has now decided to postpone plans for a Mosque in the Craigavon area.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1