stop racist attacks

A SIX foot wooden plank thrown through the window, spraying shattered glass over an area where a family have just finished eating. This attack on the home of a Pakistani man and his eight and a half month pregnant sister-in-law is just one of the latest of a series of sickening racist attacks.

A sample of the grafetti appearing on walls in South Belfast, December 2003.

The Donegall Road/Village area of Belfast has seen a concentration of attacks. Just before Christmas the homes of a Ugandan couple and two Chinese families were attacked, and the families were forced to flee the area.

But South Belfast is not the only area to have suffered. Last year, according to the PSNI, there were 226 reported racist incidents, spread across much of Northern Ireland. Muslims have been threatened or attacked in Enniskillen and Craigavon. Pipe bombs were recently left outside the house of South African families in Belfast. Other incidents have taken place in Ballymena and Coleraine.

Most of the attacks have taken place in Protestant areas. However there have also been incidents in Catholic areas. Chinese and Bangladeshis have recently been assaulted in the Antrim Road district of Belfast.

Most of this activity is organised and co-ordinated by far right groups who are trying to use the issue of immigration to gain a foothold in Northern Ireland. Groups like Combat 18 and the White Nationalist Party, as well as the British National Party (BNP) are trying to scapegoat immigrants in order to build a base for themselves. The BNP have even announced that they intend to contest the next local government elections.

Other less known groups have also surfaced. The "Knights of the Invisible Empire", made up of former members of the Klu Klux Klan, have been handpicking middle class fascist "intellectuals" in an attempt to gain a foothold.

These groups may be small but they represent a real threat. The time to deal with them is now, when they are small and isolated. A serious campaign needs to be launched to stop the racist attacks and to stop the far right from organising here.

As well as demonstrations and publicity, an effective campaign needs to go into the areas and, alongside the local community organisations, organise to stop the attacks.

The racists play up people's fears about housing, low wages, lack of jobs and amenities, trying to point the finger of blame at immigrants. But poverty is not caused by immigrant workers who get the worst housing and worst jobs. Patients are lying on trolleys in hospitals because of the cuts in the health service, not because immigrants have jumped the queue. Low wages and poor housing are the result of a system run for profit instead of need, and by the policies of the political parties who up hold and defend this system.

A campaign to stop the attacks and to stop the far right from organising should also be a campaign to unite workers, whether Catholic, Protestant, Indian, Chinese, African or whatever in a common struggle for houses, jobs and proper services.

More anti-fascist articles are available here

This article is from the January 2004 edition of Socialist Voice. The rest of this edition and back issues are available here.