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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Lessons in battle against racism
Danyi Shee and Tora Artura, educating through entertainment

Young people in Northern Ireland are taking lessons in cultural diversity which could help in the fight against racism.

Tora Artura is the organiser of a week of international games, dance and music classes.

He said his goal was "edu-tainment" - a combination of fun and all-important education about other cultures which could help end the ignorance linked to racist attacks.

In the past year, the number of attacks against people from ethnic minority communities living in the province has increased.

Teachers originally from China, Japan, Africa and Latin America are running the classes at Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre from 25 August to show that Northern Ireland has a diverse, cultural mix.

"It is a way of getting young people to experience other cultures," Mr Artura said.

"We want to unlock their creativity through dance, games and workshops."

Young people do say things without even realising this is racism to other cultures
Danyi Shee
"This is a fun environment where they can learn about other cultures.

"We hope our teachers will inspire the children to realise that learning is not dull or mundane."

Mr Artura, from Zimbabwe, has lived in Northern Ireland for nine years.

He also runs Mars, the Movement against Racism and Sectarianism, which aims to bring an end to ignorance and racial prejudice.

Mr Artura said that racism was often based on ignorance and education was the way to change this.

Danyi Shee who is originally from Beijing, will be introducing young people to Chinese games at the classes.

Ms Shee moved to Northern Ireland five years ago and is aware of the levels of racism.

"Young people do say things without even realising this is racism to other cultures," she said.

Mr Artura added that describing a Chinese meal as a "Chinky" - a term commonly used in Northern Ireland - was, in itself, racist comment.

Racist attacks have increased across Northern Ireland. Police said 226 racial incidents were reported between April 2002 and April 2003, with 185 such attacks in the previous year.

Racist attacks

In June 2003, police in south Belfast stepped up security for minority groups in the area following pipe bomb attacks on two homes.

In July, the home of a mixed race Muslim family in County Armagh was attacked by a gang of up to 10 men.

Earlier this year, Northern Ireland's Equality Commission noted that racist attacks in Northern Ireland were running at a higher level than in England and Wales.

They were running at 16.4 per 1,000 of the minority ethnic population compared to 12.6 in England and Wales, said the commission.

It pointed to attacks on the homes of Filipino nurses in Ballymena, County Antrim and offensive leaflets over building plans for a mosque in Portadown, County Armagh.

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