Belfast Telegraph

Kicked, punched, abused by racist thugs... now I'm scared to work my pitch

City centre stallholder tells of his terror over hate attack

By Claire Williamson

A Turkish man has told of his terror as he was assaulted in broad daylight in a racist attack.

Musa Gulusen works at a stall in Royal Avenue beside the clothes shop H&M.

The 45-year-old, who has lived in Belfast for more than 20 years, says he is subjected to racist abuse almost every day – but it goes "in one ear and out the other".

However, on Wednesday he was assaulted by two men who punched him to the ground.

He said: "Two fellas were passing my stall, they called me a P*** b******.

"I thought he was joking me or messing me about. I said: 'What did you say, do you know me?'

"And then I'm on the ground and another fella kicked me. They ripped my shirt and punched my face. My wrist was broken as well."

Mr Gulusen had £120 in his pocket which diappeared during the assault.

The attack is the latest in a spate of hate crimes across the city on ethnic minorities and following the controversy over Pastor James McConnell's comments about Islam.

The surge in attacks prompted thousands to gather in Belfast for an anti-racism rally last weekend.

The stallholder had to go to hospital for treatment for his injuries. Despite the attack, he was back at work, and there has been an outpouring of support from local people.

But he admitted he was "scared" of returning, and he was "nervous looking over his back".

"I want to say thank you very much to all Belfast people and city centre people and workers who helped me.

"This is the centre for everybody, it's not mine it's not yours, it's for everybody."

Even with the support, Mr Gulusen feels afraid. He said: "I feel very sad. It's my life.

"I pay everything, tax, insurance I have a licence and I'm still working today. I had a sick line but I have to make money. I have to work – there is no choice."

Mr Gulusen said the only people he blamed for what happened to him was his attackers.

He does not think Northern Ireland is a racist country and has no plans to leave. He said: "My girlfriend is from here, my friends are from here, and my daughter was born here – just one person gives Belfast a bad name."

The determined worker said he would like to ask his attackers "why?" He said: "Why racism? Why me? Why anybody?

"Where does the reason come from? OK, you don't like my colour, walk away. You don't like me, go to work. It's not your business. I can't change it.

"What I am is none of your business. I am here 20 years and just for a couple of stupid people, I'm not going to be scared of them," he added.

Two men aged 18 and 25 were arrested on Wednesday evening and were later released pending further inquiries.

Belfast Telegraph


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