Northern Ireland news

Syrian families targeted in racially motivated hate crime in Co Tyrone

'Muslims out' was scrawled on a garage wall at the home of Syrian refugees in Dungannon
Connla Young

A family which fled war-torn Syria for a new life in Co Tyrone has been targeted in a racially motivated hate crime.

Graffiti reading “Muslims out” was scrawled on a garage wall at the rear of their home in the Bernagh Gardens area of Dungannon on Wednesday night.

Around the same time a stone was thrown at the home of another Syrian family who live nearby.

Police said that while the window was not broken the pane was damaged.

Last night Husein Almassre told how his 11-year-old son has been afraid to sleep on his own at night.

Husein and his family have lived at the property for the past 18 months after spending five years in an Egyptian refugee camp.

He had earlier fled Syria which is in the grip of civil war.

Mr Almassre said his Syrian neighbour became aware of a man throwing a stone at a window of his home at around 10.30pm on Wednesday.

He said that it wasn't until the following day that he was told graffiti had also been plastered on his own garage wall.

The 55-year-old last night said his wife Amaal Alkhatib and their four children, aged between 11 and two, have been happy in their new home.

“I have no problems with my neighbours,” he said.

“The first year and a half all our neighbours love us and we don't have any problems.

“I am sure they are good people here.”

He said he is concerned by the attack.

“I like it here, if I have problems for my family, sorry it's no good,” he said.

“We came out of my country from Egypt and we are looking a good life.”

Denise Mullen, chair of the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership and an SDLP councillor, visited the family yesterday.

She said she has “received dozens of calls from angry neighbours" who like her are "disgusted and furious that such an inoffensive family would be subjected to a hate-filled and cowardly crime”.

“There is no place in Dungannon for racism from anyone or any cliques who use violence on vulnerable people who have come to Dungannon to seek sanctuary."

Ms Mullen also said she was "not happy with" the PSNI response to the attacks.

Chief Inspector Mervyn Seffen said last night: "We are treating both these incidents as

racially motivated hate crimes.

“Everyone should be afforded the right to live in their own home without fear. It should be a place of sanctuary.

“Those who continue to carry out these senseless, despicable acts of wanton criminality have no place in a civilised society.”

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