Hundreds turn out for anti-racism rally following south Belfast attacks
HUNDREDS of people have attended an anti-racism rally in Belfast following a spate of hate crimes in the south of the city.
The United Against Racism rally was held at Shaftesbury Square on Tuesday, close to where a series of incidents have been reported in the Donegall Road area, including an arson attack on a shop owned by a Syrian businessman who has said he now plans to relocate his store.
Recent incidents have also included businesses being targeted with racist graffiti, windows being smashed, and signs being stolen.
Police are continuing to investigate the incidents, while Tuesday's rally saw hundreds show up to show solidarity with those targeted.
Rally organisers said the event was about being "united and confident in standing against racism", adding those responsible for attacks "do not represent the people of south Belfast".
Among speakers at the rally was People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll, who hit out at "racist thugs who have been allowed to operate with impunity for too long".
“It is incredibly inspiring to see so many people come out to state that these attacks are unacceptable and they are not carried out in our name," he told attendees.
“Migrant groups, human rights organisations, trade unionists and more have sent a clear message of solidarity to the victims of racist attacks, and voiced their clear opposition to those who want to divide us."
He added that racist tensions had been stoked by "the same paramilitary gangs who rule through fear and sectarian hatred".
“We all have a duty to relentlessly oppose these forces. We need to reclaim our streets and fight for a better future for all communities, regardless of race or religion. We must continue to mobilise until we stamp out hatred," Mr Carroll said.