'Disturbing' racist graffiti is condemned
Racist graffiti has appeared in south Belfast less than a month after "Islamophobic" leaflets were distributed in the area.
The offensive graffiti was daubed on a door just off the London Road in the Ravenhill area of the city and depicts a hooded figure, alongside the letters "KKK".
Yesterday, Belfast City Council were made aware of the graffiti and tasked officers to remove it as soon as possible.
It is unclear exactly when the sinister graffiti was painted.
Green Party representative for Lisnasharragh, Brian Smyth, condemned the message.
"This disturbing graffiti has been daubed on the wall with only one intention - to frighten and intimidate people who have every right to live their lives in peace," he said.
This is not the first time the area has experienced incidents of racial intimidation.
In March, leaflets were put through letterboxes of residents in the Ravenhill Road area, purporting to be from a group called "Generation Sparta".
The leaflet warned against the 'Islamification' of Northern Ireland and contained several racist messages, one of which called for Catholics and Protestants to unite against the "common threat" of "fanatical Islamists".
"Protestants and Catholics bled for this land, not Islamists," another read. At the time, police said they were treating the leaflet drop as a hate crime.
The incident was later brought up at a monthly meeting of Belfast City Council, where it was widely condemned by councillors across the chamber.
One representative, however, defended the leaflet drop.
Independent councillor Jolene Bunting said they were simply providing "information" and "people in this city need to know information about all faiths in society.
"It's up to the leaders in this city to address people's concerns and not just label them as racist or fascist.
"Fascists are the people who don't want anyone to speak out about Islam," she added.
Brian Smyth acknowledged that racially-motivated incidents are an "ongoing problem" in the Ravenhill area and said his party will be meeting with the PSNI this week to raise such issues.
"It is clear that a small group of troublemakers are intent on building an atmosphere of fear and tension in the area," he added.
"Belfast is a city that welcomes people from different backgrounds and I would appeal to residents in the area to keep an eye out and support their neighbours. This city is for everyone."
Alliance councillor Michael Long said the incident is "not reflective" of the views of the majority of residents who want a "diverse Belfast".
"Undoubtedly, the recent racist leaflet means that some people may feel empowered to put this graffiti up, but it is totally unacceptable and I condemn it completely," he said.