Friday, 23 September 2011

Unite against hate: All hate

The group Unite Against Hate is there to create a zero tolerance Northern Irish approach to all hate crime and discrimination. Whether that is sectarian, racist, homophobic, transphobic, religious or disability related hate crime. Anyone who has seen me for the last year will have seen me wearing their white wristband, it never leaves my wrist.

Therefore I was as shocked as anyone to see the sign pictured reported in the news yesterday. It was on display in an off licence in Draperstown, County Londonderry. However, can one tell it someone is a foreign national. If a Nowegian, American or Australian were to turn up in the shop would they have been requested to provide ID? What about someone from the republic? Official they would have been a foreign national, many living in Draperstown probably hold Irish citizenship.

Or course the sign was probably in reaction to one individual of ethnic origin being suspected of the theft that may have occurred in the shop. But as with anything of this type it is discriminatory to tar every foreign national with the same brush, what the store should have done was up its own security measures to deal with this theft or state of thefts.

However, we also see similar signs about school children, restricting the number into shops, or making them leave their schoolbags at the doors. Are we teaching discrimination and that you are guilty until proven otherwise to our young people at a young age?

The sign has since been taken down and is being investigated by the NI Equality Commission, but such racism should not be happening in the first place.

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