CAIRO – A few hours after Belfast's anti-racism rally, two Muslim men were attacked by a group of racists who vandalized their home, injuring one of the victims who was taken to hospital.
“If we go outside in the street, people will start swearing at us ... What can we do? We are just foreigners, we don't feel accepted,” Muhammad Asif Khattak, 24, a Pakistani immigrant who was attacked by extremists told the Guardian.
“We are scared now and my family and friends are telling me to come back to London.”
Khattak and another man were victims of a hate crime that targeted their residence at the Parkmount Street where they were subjected to racist taunts and physical abuse.
On Sunday morning, the windows of the home were broken. By the afternoon, the assailants followed the victims, storming their residence and injuring Khattak.
According to a police spokesman, the 24-year-old man “had been subjected to racist taunts by a group of people outside the property” and was sent to the hospital.
The spokesman added that a 38-year-old man who lives in the house was attacked too.
The racist attack followed an earlier Saturday’s anti-racism rally which drew thousands of angry protesters.
The rallied crowds demanded a public apology from North Ireland first minister Peter Robinson for insulting the country’s Muslim population.
The controversy erupted ten days ago when pastor James McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast told his congregation that “a new evil had arisen” and “there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain”.
Wading into the controversy, Peter Robinson, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) first minister, supported McConnell’s claims in an interview with the Irish News newspaper.
In a bid to calm rising anger in North Ireland, Robinson issued a statement in which he apologized to Muslims who had been hurt or distressed by his comments.
The apology followed Robinson’s meeting with three members of Belfast's Islamic Centre on Thursday to discuss the fall-out from his comments in support of anti-Islamic pastor McConnell.
Condemning the ant-Muslim attacks, Nigel Dodds, North Belfast MP and Peter Robinson's colleague in the Democratic Unionist party described the incident as “utterly disgraceful”.
“This attack like all the others on homes in north Belfast is utterly disgraceful,” he said.
The racist attack is the second to occur in Belfast within the past two weeks.
“This follows an attack 10 days ago on a Jamaican family in Rathcoole and a number of sectarian attacks including an attack on a house in the Glenbryn area on Friday,” Dodds said.
“There is no justification for any attack on an individual or their home whatever the religion, lifestyle, or ethnicity of the person concerned,” he added.
On Saturday's rally, members from the Muslim community as well as people from South Africa and Poland were among those who addressed the Belfast crowd.
Among those attending the Stand Up and Rally Against Racism protest in Belfast was Anna Lo, the only Chinese-born parliamentarian in the UK.
She addressed the rally days after she announced plans to quit Northern Ireland politics because she is “fed up with tribal politics”.
Muslims make up 1.1 percent of the 4.5 million people in Ireland, but their ranks are swelling due to immigration, domestic births, and in some cases conversion.
Two decades ago, they numbered about 4,000.
A 2011 census recorded 49,204 Muslims, including nearly 12,000 school-aged children. The numbers represent a 51 percent increase since 2006.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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