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Owner of Armagh takeaway claims racists are 'trying to scare all the foreigners away' after his shop targeted

Indian restaurant in city has its windows smashed after abusive phone messages

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The owner of a hot food takeaway in Armagh has said racists are "trying to scare all the foreigners away" after his shop was one of a number targeted in the city last week

The owner of a hot food takeaway in Armagh has said racists are "trying to scare all the foreigners away" after his shop was one of a number targeted in the city last week

PA

The owner of a hot food takeaway in Armagh has said racists are "trying to scare all the foreigners away" after his shop was one of a number targeted in the city last week

The owner of a hot food takeaway in Armagh has said racists are "trying to scare all the foreigners away" after his shop was one of a number targeted in the city last week.

Sohaib Ahmed, known as Ali, was left shocked and frightened after the windows of his business were smashed last Thursday night.

Mr Ahmed has run Gringos, a Mexican and Italian takeaway, without incident for the past 11 years.

The attack came 24 hours after he was subjected to racial abuse down the phone line from anonymous callers.

On the same night, Indian restaurant Shapla had its front window shot at and broken, possibly by a pellet gun, police believe.

It is understood a Chinese restaurant was also targeted in the same manner.

Mr Ahmed said the damage to his windows will take at least £3,000 to repair. "Three of the windows - the entire shop front and the front door - were smashed, so I will need to replace the whole frame," he said.

"We just heard a big bang and we thought something had fallen at the front of the shop so we went and looked outside but there was nobody there.

"Maybe people pulled up in a car, threw something at the window, and drove away.

"The night before I had about five calls from a withheld number and the people on the other end of the phone started racially abusing me, but I was busy and I didn't worry too much."

However, Thursday's incident frightened him so much that he closed up early and went home.

"We were meant to stay open longer but I was too scared," he said.

"I have been serving all the community here for a long time. I don't know why this has happened. I am heartbroken with it being Christmas and this happening."

Since the incidents, Mr Ahmed has been receiving phone calls and texts of support from customers and friends.

He said police had also told him they would be increasing patrols in the area.

Meanwhile, Aminul Islam, who took over the Shapla a year ago, said the incident had come as a "shock" to him and his staff and he hoped there would be no repeat of it.

"I had just taken an order and given it to the chef when we heard a loud noise. The glass at the front had been broken but there was nobody there," he said.

"It has been a tough time for us recently with Covid and all the opening and closing. We didn't need this as well."

Police have urged anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anything, or who has dashcam footage, to contact them on 101.

Last month PSNI figures showed there were more than six hate-motivated incidents or crimes reported to the police every day.

Statistics published by the PSNI and research agency NISRA tracked reported crimes and incidents over the past 15 years.

They showed that there were 936 racist incidents and 626 racist crimes recorded by the police in the 12 months to the end of March 2020 - a slight decrease on the previous year, but still one of the highest figures since police records began in 2004/05.

In addition, the past year saw 888 sectarian incidents and 640 sectarian crimes, as well as 272 incidents and 195 crimes with homophobic motivation.

Belfast Telegraph


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