Far right threatens Anna Lo, racist attacks in Belfast

// 6 July 2009

Anna Lo is the sole ethnic minority member of the Northern Ireland Assembly – and last week she was warned by police of threats to attack her by racist far-right groups in the region, reports the Belfast Telegraph. (Via Madam Miaow).

…As Assembly members discussed a spate of racist and sectarian attacks in the region, she revealed she had been warned by police of a threat to attack her.

Ms Lo later said she also knew of threatening letters sent to Polish and Islamic centres in Belfast by loyalist far-right groups threatening to bomb at least one of the premises.

“People from ethnic minority communities are very frightened,” she said.

Ms Lo represents the south Belfast area where a series of attacks on Romanian families forced more than 100 people from their homes with most eventually leaving Northern Ireland.

It emerged last week that Ms Lo received threats in two letters and two emails but yesterday she told the Assembly she had now been warned by police of further threats.

“Myself and a large number of ethnic minority people this weekend and today have received serious threats upon our safety,” she said.

“I have never seen ethnic minorities so fearful in Northern Ireland.”

This follows an attack on Belfast’s Romanian community, which forced 100 people to leave the city:

A Romanian mother of two sheltering at the O-Zone said the families were terrified. The woman, who gave her first name, Maria, said everyone was adamant they wanted to return to Romania.

She said attacks had been intensifying over the past two weeks, with youths threatening her and her children. Other people spoke of men armed with guns telling them to leave the country or face being shot.

“We are OK, we are safe here now,” she said. “But we want to go home because right now we are not safe here [in Northern Ireland]. We want to go back home to Romania, everybody right now does. I want to go home because I have here two kids and I want my kids to be safe.”

Comments From You

Karen // Posted 6 July 2009 at 5:54 pm

I’ve got an idea. Deport all the racist bullies from this country, Northern Ireland and any others, put them all on one area of land and then the rest of us can try to behave like adults should, try to get on with each other and show some humanity to the less fortunate. My great-grandparents were italian immigrants to England, my Grandad fought for England in the second world war but then no-one would employ him afterwards because of his Italian surname, so he had to change his name. That was over 55 years ago and we haven’t moved on from those stupid attitudes?! People keep telling me be proud to be British. With my mixed heritage and attitudes like those displayed in Belfast!?? No way, Pedro!

Anne Onne // Posted 7 July 2009 at 5:43 pm

Welcome to what ‘voluntary repatriation’ would look like. Welcome to what would happen if the BNP and anyone else who fears people not like themselves were to get what they want.

This is what xenophobia and racism and intolerance of ethnic minorities becomes when we take it to the logical conclusion. When people say they are uncomfortable with immigration policies, this is the way that some political parties would wish to soothe their fears and concerns.

This is not the answer, and thankfully it seems relatively few people truly believe that it is. But many of the ways we discuss immigration feeds into the narratives that make actions like this possible.

This is why we need to be very careful how we discuss immigration. To examine our reasons and our own motivations, and whether we ourselves are talking out of fear or ignorance, or feeding into it. Not because there is some huge backlash to not being PC, but because we can easily feed into people’s fears and make situations worse. Talking about immigration certainly isn’t necessarily racist, but we have to admit to ourselves that so much of the discourse and framing surrounding this debate is.

My thoughts have been with these families since I heard about this. I hope Ms Lo and all the immigrant and ethnic minority families are safe and that these tensions subside.

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