Northern Ireland: Belfast Multi-Cultural Association arson was second in three weeks

We know those responsible do not reflect the community of Donegall Pass and all of this town’ – Mohammad Atif

Repeated attacks, including the apparent use of a Molotov cocktail, are hallmarks of a deeply sinister campaign of racist violence” – Patrick Corrigan

Community fundraising exceeds target – over £6,000 donated for group targeted in hate crime

The Belfast Multi-Cultural Association has suffered two arson attacks in the past three weeks.

In the early morning hours of Friday April 8, the center was the subject of an arson attack at the front of the building which caused extensive damage.

The building was also attacked in a separate arson attack over the weekend of March 19-20. In this incident, planks of wood used in scaffolding at the rear of the building were set on fire in a suspected petrol bomb attack.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director, said:

“The Belfast Multi-Cultural Association trustees informed me of another arson attack on the building just three weeks ago. Thankfully that fire did not spread.

“Repeated attacks, including the apparent use of a Molotov cocktail, are hallmarks of a deeply sinister and concerted campaign of racist violence.

“It creates a climate of fear for people from ethnic minorities in Belfast. We expect the police to do their job and hold those responsible to account.

Meanwhile, more than £6,000 was raised over the weekend in a online appeal set up following an arson attack Belfast Multicultural Association in the early hours of Friday morning.

Donations have poured in for the Belfast Multi-Cultural Association after its building on Donegall Pass in the city was targeted in what police are treating as a racially motivated hate crime.

The crowdfunder surpassed its £5,000 target just a day after it was set up by Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan. The target has now been raised to £7,500.

Muhammad Atif, administrator of Belfast Multi-Cultural Association, said:

“These attacks have left us heartbroken. It seems clear that we are the target of a hate campaign designed to drive us out. But we know that those in charge do not reflect the community of Donegall Pass and the whole town.

“The response to this fundraising appeal has shown us that we have the support of the community. We are deeply grateful for this outpouring of solidarity.

“We will come back stronger than ever to help the communities we serve. This is our commitment to the people of Belfast.

In January last year, the building was destroyed by arson. The repair work on the roof had just been completed last Wednesday. The building has been used as a food bank, with volunteers distributing parcels to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Association is now continuing its work from temporary premises elsewhere in the city while repair work continues.

James C. Tibbs