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Muslims targeted in vicious racial attacks, warns report

MUSLIMS in Ireland have been the victims of a number of vicious attacks, both verbal and physical, since September 11.

A report published yesterday said a fifth of the 41 racist incidents reported were linked in some way to the attacks on America by Islamic extremists.

It called for a more consistent approach from the Garda in tackling racism, and also expressed concern about the proliferation of racist material on the internet.

The report of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) deals with racist incidents that occurred between May and October 2001.

In one incident, a Yemeni national was dragged out of a telephone booth outside a Tralee supermarket and assaulted by a group of youths. He spent several days in hospital.

Not all the physical attacks were aimed at Muslims. NCCRI Director Philip Watt told how a Japanese female tourist was walking through Dublin when a man got off his motorcycle, approached, and slapped her in the face. The woman remained in her hotel room for four days and went home shortly afterwards.

Mr Watt said the report, the first of its kind, revealed racism was experienced by men, women and children of 15 nationalities.

Of the 41 incidents reported in the six months covered by the report, 56pc occurred in Dublin and 24pc in Cork, Ennis, Limerick and other towns. About 10pc occurred in predominantly rural areas, such as Cork and Leitrim.

In a small number of reported cases, the complainants believed the response from gardai was less supportive and some gardai were reported as being dismissive or indifferent to those making the complaints.

However, the report praised the prompt action of gardai in closing down websites which were a source of incitement to hatred.

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One incident reported publicity for racist websites being deliberately posted in the close vicinity of a refugee centre in Dublin.

Dr Jasbir Puri, spokesman for the Sikh community, said he and other members of his community had experienced racist abuse. A number of Sikhs had cut their hair and stopped wearing their turbans in order to avoid victimisation.

David Joyce of the Irish Traveller Movement said many of the incidents described in the report were experienced daily by Travellers but were not recognised as racism.

He said entire towns has closed every shop and pub on six different occasions this year because the proprietors knew there was a Traveller funeral on that day.

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