Belfast Telegraph

Family to leave home after race hate petrol bomb attack

By Nevin Farrell

The family of a Muslim man are lucky to be alive after his Ballymena home was petrol bombed by racist thugs.

Four people were in the house at Kintyre Park, Ballymena, when it was hit in an early morning attack. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

Police are treating it as a hate crime, and the family - Amin Ibrahim (48), his wife Margaret (54) and their children Sarah (19) and Muhammad (17) - are preparing to leave the property.

Mr Ibrahim said: "We could be burying four people. I ran down the stairs to put the flames out and was in my bare feet and cut my feet on the broken glass.

"Over the years there have been many attacks on our home, but it has never stopped me living here. My mum is from here, but we have never had peace. The people who did this are cowards.

"I had kids sleeping in bed and there could be four people dead. Instead of having a broken window, we could be having four bodies going to the graveyard.

"It is a shame. We were all disgusted at the Paris attacks. We are human beings like anybody else.

Margaret, who works in a jeweller's in Ballymena, said: "My husband's family have been living in this part of Ballykeel for 25 years. I have been living here for the last 20 years.

"When it happened, we were all in bed.

"I heard the fire alarm going off and I thought it was all right as it had done that before. Then I heard my son and daughter saying: 'Get out, the house is on fire'. I came down the stairs to find the living room in smoke.

"Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the window was smashed, glass flew across the living room and there was scorch damage to a chair. If anybody had been sitting there it would have been a different story. We are now going to the Housing Executive to see if we can get rehoused because we don't feel safe here any more.

"This has a lot to do with Paris. I think the house was attacked because my husband is Muslim. I would say the people who did this to us are sick in the mind. We had to go to my sister, who lives in the other side of the town. Neighbours having been saying it is dreadful."

Police said a petrol bomb ignited in the front room but the flames were extinguished by the occupants, who escaped unhurt.

Superintendent Ryan Henderson added: "We are treating the attack as a religious hate crime. The home owners are long standing and valued members of our community.

"Officers have worked through the night at the crime scene and will continue to work hard to identify those behind the petrol bomb attack.

"The people who carried out this petrol bomb attack are totally out of step with our modern and multicultural community. I am disgusted by this attack and I know that the vast majority of Ballymena people will react in a similar way."

Belfast Telegraph

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