Belfast nurse speaks out after racist incident

A nurse has claimed that he was subjected to racism and xenophobia at a Belfast bar at the weekend.

Mohammed Samaana is a 41-year-old nurse and a member of Amnesty International and said the incident happened at a bar in the city on Saturday night.

“I was just walking in the bar when a guy said to me ‘Are you from the EU?’” he said.

“I thought he was just joking but then he used abusive language, but then he said ‘F*** off back to your country. Get the f*** out of our country.’”

“He started to get aggressive, waving his fists and repeated that a couple of times and I just walked away from the situation as I didn’t want the whole thing to escalate.

For Mohammed, the experience understandably turned what was meant to be a pleasant night out into a sour experience.

“It’s upsetting because when you’re going out, you’re going out to enjoy yourself,” he said.

“I’m disappointed in the people that were with him, they were just silent, as if they were condoning it.

“In some senses, I feel lucky as it was more verbal than physical but I have to be more careful now.”

Amnesty International have said that there has been a rise in such incidents across the UK as those described by Mohammed since the vote to leave the EU on Friday.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said: “This racist verbal attack - in a busy Belfast bar - is just the latest reported incident of its type across the country.

“Bigotry and xenophobia existed before this referendum, but it feels like racists now think it is open season to attack people of a different nationality, accent or skin colour.

“When politicians fuel racist thinking, we should not be wholly surprised when some people feel they have been given a license to act on their prejudices.

“Society must not stand idly by while migrants and people from minority ethnic communities feel fearful for their safety and their future.”

Green Party MLA Clare Bailey said she was 'disgusted' by reports of racism in Belfast.

The new South Belfast Green Party MLA Clare Bailey said she was angry after the incident and others that have been reported to her.

“I am disgusted to hear that there has been a rise in racist incidents over the past few days in South Belfast, including people getting spat at while waiting for a bus,” she said.

“I am calling on those who were involved in the Leave campaign to join me in condemning this xenophobic behaviour and in letting our migrant communities know that they are more than welcome.

“I am proud that South Belfast is one of our most diverse communities and want it to stay that way.