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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 14:33 GMT
'Hundreds' attend anti-racism rally
Several hundred people attended the city centre rally
Several hundred people attended the city centre rally
An anti-racism rally has been held in Belfast to protest against the recent spate of racist attacks in the city.

Several hundred people took part in the demonstration at Belfast City Hall at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The rally, which was organised by the Anti-Racism Network in conjunction with the trade union movement, coincides with the UK Holocaust Memorial Day.

A statement read out at the start of the rally, which was endorsed by the main political parties in the province, condemned racism and urged all sections of society to deal with the problem.

Anna Lo of the Chinese Welfare Association said she believed that Belfast's growing reputation as a racist city was deserved.

"A lot of racist incidents have not been reported," she said.

"A lot of Chinese people would have kept away from reporting attacks because they are saying 'what is the point?'.

We also know that racism takes many forms from the direct racism that operates at an individual level to the racist jokes and language we hear as well as institutional racism
Sarah Boyce
Anti-Racism Network

"Many of them would suffer racial abuse on a daily basis."

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, SDLP councillor Martin Morgan, said it was up to everyone to tackle the issue of racism.

"Bigotry, prejudice and intolerance still exist on the streets of this city," he said.

"It is the challenge that we put out to the people of this city, to the government, to the police, that we must work together to deal with the issue of racism and make this a better city for everyone."

The rally was held hours before the city hosts the fourth UK Holocaust Memorial Day at the Waterfront Hall later on Tuesday.

Sarah Boyce, of the Anti-Racism Network, said "for every horror story that is recorded by the PSNI or reported on by the media, there are many more that go unreported".

"We also know that racism takes many forms from the direct racism that operates at an individual level to the racist jokes and language we hear as well as institutional racism, which is much more subtle and difficult to address and which denies the existence of cultural diversity in our society.

"We need to name all of this racism. Racism is about denying basic human rights to our fellow human beings - the right to life itself, to right to live free from harassment, the right to equality, the right not to be discriminated against and the right to practise one's own culture, language and religion."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Kevin Sharkey:
"Anna Lo of the Chinese Welfare Association said she believed that Belfast's growing reputation as a racist city was deserved"



SEE ALSO:
Race hate on rise in NI
13 Jan 04  |  Northern Ireland
Racist attack was 'hate crime'
08 Jan 04  |  Northern Ireland
Pregnant women in 'racial attack'
21 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland


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