At 9pm last Tuesday, 44-year-old Chinese doctor, Wu Youzhong, went to investigate the sound of breaking glass outside his home in Coleraine, County Londonderry, in Northern Ireland. When he arrived at his front door, he saw that the window had been smashed. An intruder then attacked him so violently that he had to be admitted to hospital for several days, and required consultation from an eye specialist. Dr Wu’s wife, Luo Ruoyin, said, “I heard he was just screaming in pain and I was scared. He was just holding his head and covering his eyes and blood was just running down everywhere.” The police are treating the attack as racially motivated; the couple, who have a two-year-old daughter, are reported to be intending to move away from the area.
The Chinese community in Northern Ireland has long been a target of racial discrimination. Anna Lo, an Alliance Party politician born in Hong Kong who was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007, was the first politician from an ethnic minority at national level in Northern Ireland, as well as the first East Asian to be elected anywhere in Britain. Her campaign was dogged by violent racism – including death threats – to the extent that she had to carry a panic alarm as a precaution. One far-Right website published pornographic images of Chinese women, alongside derogatory references to Anna Lo. “People from ethnic minorities are very frightened,” she said. “I have never seen ethnic minorities so fearful in Northern Ireland.”
Sectarian hatred in Northern Ireland is well documented; only this month, four policemen were suspended after an internal inquiry into sectarian text messages. But a shadow of hatred of migrants and ethnic minorities lies across the country too. The latest Young Life and Times Survey, a research project jointly carried out by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, found that 42 per cent of young people have witnessed racist harassment at school. In contrast, only 22 per cent of Catholics and Protestants do not have any friends from “the other side”, which is 50 per cent lower than in 2003; a quarter has more than ten. Racist attitudes, it seems, are shifting from internal sectarian lines to a prejudice determined by ethnicity.
There is much anecdotal evidence to support this. Earlier this year, TheBelfast Telegraph reported that a Filipino worker was tied to a chair, and another locked in a freezer, by a racist colleague. These allegations highlighted new research which demonstrated that almost 50 per cent of Filipinos – of which there are around 7,000 in Northern Ireland – had experienced racist harassment at their workplace, usually perpetrated by co-workers. Continue reading on the Telegraph website