Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

I am shopping for Peter: protesters use humour to make point about Islamaphobia and racism

Two women join the I am Shopping for Peter flash mob on Royal Avenue

I am shopping for Peter: This was the message on placards held by the Muslim community and other activists during a flash mob in Belfast city centre on Saturday, directed at First Minister Peter Robinson.

Using humour to make their point, dozens of Muslims and protesters from a diverse range of backgrounds, held aloft posters saying "I am shopping for Peter" and "Out shopping for Peter" in response to the DUP leader's comments in a newspaper interview suggesting he would trust Muslims in circumstances, such as going to the shops for him.

Mr Robinson has insisted his words had been misinterpreted and said he would never wish to insult or upset Muslims.

Dr Raied Al-Wazzan from Belfast Islamic Centre described Mr Robinson's apology as "sincere", adding "we accepted it".

He said, however, that he should make his apology public to be "more sincere".

Saturday's flash mob, which followed a rally against racism at City Hall, involved hundreds of people who queued up outside a supermarket in Royal Avenue, Belfast chanting "Peter has to go".

Saeb Shaath, who helped organise the event, said: "I am an Arab living in Ireland for the last 25 years.

"The First Minister tried to say he only trusts Muslims to be his servants, he considers them second class citizens.

"He then went to the Islamic mosque and he said he apologised if he hurt anyone but didn't apologise.

"We demand that he apologises publicly to the whole of Ireland."

Last night, Madeeha Malak, a 25-year-old pharmacist from Antrim, said she, and many other Muslims, would like the First Minister to make a full public apology: "What he has said might influence impressionable people and it reinforces negativity."

Meanwhile, a series of further anti-racism events are being planned across Northern Ireland.

A Say No to Racism and Islamaphobia public meeting will take place at the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue tomorrow at 8pm.

On Saturday, June 7, a march organised by Amnesty International, the NI Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and NICEM, is planned in central Belfast.

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