Northern Ireland’s thriving economy could be destroyed by rising levels of race-hate violence, the Rev Jesse Jackson warned today.
With ethnic groups being attacked in Belfast, the veteran American civil rights campaigner said he was horrified by the new menace.
As he made a cross-community trip to the city, Mr Jackson urged greater tolerance.
He said; “I have read about it with some dismay.
“Ireland right now is on the threshold of real economic investment and growth, but racist violence is a deterrent to growth.
“This is a deterrent to investment and if Ireland wants the benefits of investment, it must accept the opportunity of immigration.
“It must see immigration as an asset and not a threat.”
The US Democratic party member and former associate of the Rev Martin Luther King was in Belfast for an awards ceremony to recognise the city’s Filipino community following a rash of racial attacks.
Asian families living in North Belfast had their homes smeared with sickening slogans earlier this week as far-right groups intensified their campaign.
Tiny knots of Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Ugandans and Portuguese who have set up home in Northern Ireland have also faced intimidation by the racists, with some cases also linked to Loyalist paramilitaries.
Three Latvian men were attacked in Lurgan, County Armagh, this week, one being stabbed in the arm.
Mr Jackson denounced the thugs responsible for divisive racist attacks, stressing: “Racism theologically is a sin before God.
“We must see that racism hinders growth and limits the human spirit.”
In an attempt to eradicate the problem, he called for more education.
“In our schools and in our churches, we must not only condemn it but teach against it so that people can overcome their fear.”
Belfast Telegraph, Nov. 11
Civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson was today expected to take part in a Belfast awards ceremony recognising the city’s Filipino community following a spate of racial attacks in recent days.
The Democratic Party member, an outspoken critic of racism in the US and former associate of the Rev Martin Luther King, will be the star attraction at the Aisling awards recognising community workers in the city.
His first visit to Northern Ireland comes after members of the Anti Racism Network held a vigil in north Belfast last night.
The protest was held to demonstrate at attacks on the homes of members of the Filipino and Chinese communities in which racist slogans were daubed on their homes on Monday night.
Up to 100 people gathered at the Fortwilliam shops to show their disgust.
Recent attacks have prompted police to introduce more patrols in parts of Northern Ireland.
Members of the Pakistani, Ugandan, Bangladeshi, Vietnamese and Portuguese communities have also been victims of racial harassment and violence in areas of the province.
The threats and violence have been linked to the emergence of far right groups such as the British National Party, Combat 18 and the White Nationalist Party in the province.
However, loyalist paramilitaries have also been linked to the attacks, with members of the UVF being blamed.
Racial incidents have, however, also occurred in nationalist areas.
Members of the Filipino community have become nurses in Northern Ireland’s hospitals and nursing homes.
Organisers of the Aisling award are planning to honour their role in Northern Ireland society.
After a meeting with Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission yesterday, the Anti Racism Network alleged some estate agents were turning some people away because they were from ethnic minorities.