The people behind last week’s racist slogans in the Botanic area are “exploiting overcrowding in rented houses to whip up hatred”, a community representative claims.
Nazi swastikas and racist slogans were painted onto the homes of migrant families.
The intimidating hate-crime graffiti was discovered on several homes in the Holylands area on Wednesday March 2.
Paddy Meehan, a local anti-racism campaigner said those behind the attack were trying to whip up hatred by exploiting the “overcrowded conditions” in the local area that have been caused by “slum landlords”.
Mr Meehan told the Community Telegraph: “If these racists are allowed to continue this unacceptable behaviour people will begin to fear for their safety.
“There are real issues of deprivation in the Holylands area, such as growing unemployment but especially so in the extremely poor housing people are expected to live in.
“Slum landlords are responsible for massive overcrowding, which can cause resentment. These conditions are being exploited by racists to whip up hatred against ethnic minorities. The entire community needs to stand firmly against any attempt to whip up racist division and demand jobs and proper housing for all in south Belfast. Swastikas and slogans such as ‘Pakis Out’ are aimed at intimidating migrant workers and ethnic minorities in the area.”
SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell has said those responsible for the graffiti should learn how to contribute positively to society.
“This is a cowardly attack, one designed to intimidate and cause fear. What it has caused is outrage in the local community. People have been telling me of their disgust that this should happen in this area,” he said.
South Belfast MLA Anna Lo condemned this “appalling” behaviour. “A lot of work has been done at community level to promote mutual understanding between local residents and new migrant workers. Nobody wants to see this sort of graffiti. We are generally very welcoming to minorities and this sort of thing gives us a bad name.”
Laganbank Sinn Féin councillor Deirdre Hargey said racism must be ‘faced down’. “Unfortunately this type of hate crime is not new to our society.”