Belfast council motion addresses significant local hate crime
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday February 06 2018
Alliance councillor David Armitage recently proposed a council motion opposing hate crimes against minority groups and called on the Belfast City Council to recognise and respect all faiths within the city.
Mr Armitage said: “Belfast is a diverse city, home to many different groups from various faith backgrounds. This isn’t something we should hide from, but rather celebrate and as a council we have a responsibility to lead the way”.
Members of the Islamic and Jewish community were present at the council meeting and strongly supported the motion.
The motion comes after a series of prejudice-aggravated incidents in December 2017 that have targeted religious institutions.
One incident occurred on the 23rd of December where pig meat was thrown through the doors of the Belfast Islamic Centre.
Zoraiz Kashif, representing the local Muslim community, said: “It is difficult to hear the words of those striving to make certain members of society feel unwelcome because of their faith or background: desperate to cause division, suspicion and fear.”
“However discouraging, they will not prevail. The voices of support and acceptance have been much louder.”
Mr Armitage said: “It makes me extremely sad to have witnessed the recent number of anti-religious actions – especially against those of Jewish and Islamic faith backgrounds.”
“We must send a signal they aren’t alone and those behind any race-related attack do not speak for the majority in Northern Ireland.”
Belfast has been noted as being the epicentre of prejudice-based hate incidents in Northern Ireland.
In 2016/17, 48% of all racially aggravated hate crimes in Northern Ireland occurred in Belfast. In the same period, 73% of all religiously aggravated hate crimes in Northern Ireland occurred in Belfast.
As such, it is heartening to see steps being taken to address the significant problem.
It is important that anyone who believes they are in immediate danger from a prejudice-based hate crime should contact the police as soon as possible on 999. If not in immediate danger, or if you have suffered a prejudice-based hate crime in the past, then you can report it using the non-emergency number 101.
You can also – in addition to the police – report any Islamophobic hate crime to MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) here. This allows us to monitor levels of abuse and compile accurate data on the levels of Islamophobia.
The IRU can also help you contact and deal with the police (if you choose to do so), and signpost you towards free legal advice and emotional support that may be available.