Racial harassment, discrimination, and violence against Pakistanis in Dublin has spiraled out of control. Last week, Al-Minnah Foods, a halal food store in Cookstown Industrial Estate, was ransacked at night. Images of the ransacking, which were posted on Facebook, show graffiti, including the words ‘Pakis out’ and ‘Niggrs out’, on white walls in the store. The owner of the store stated that the criminals ‘destroyed everything’, including food, fridges, and fittings. The burglars even stole the hard drive to the CCTV system so they could not be tracked.
This incident in Tallaght is the latest in an on-going string of attacks on Pakistanis in Ireland. In June 2013, for example, a Dublin teenager was spared a criminal conviction for his role in what the Irish Independent described as a ‘vicious attack’ on a Pakistani man, whose face was beaten with a metal pole and a rake (Irish Independent, 14 June 2013). The Dublin Children’s Court, which heard the teenager’s case, suspected the attack was a ‘racially motivated incident’.
In a similar incident in April 2013, a 15-year-old Dublin boy was convicted of a violent robbery of a fast-food delivery Pakistani man. Judge John O’Connor at Dublin Children’s Court described the event as a ‘racially motivated’ crime (Irish Independent, 17 April 2013). According to the Independent, the boy called the Pakistani man a ‘bastard’ and demanded that he hand over his money and phone. The Pakistani man ‘was thinking they were going to kill me if I [did] not’. In a statement to the Gardai, the boy claimed that he did not have anything against ‘foreigners’, but also added that ‘they all look the same to me’.
In January 2012, the Irish Times published an article about Dr Syed Kamra Haider Bukhari, a Pakistani psychologist working in Ireland, who claimed to be racially abused and physically assaulted by a women in a County Louth nightclub (Irish Times, 4 January 2012). Dr Bukhari claimed that security men at the door of the club laughed at him when he complained. Bukhari told the Irish Times: ‘I think and feel like I have no rights in this so-called civilized world, when I am putting my heart and soul into my work and serving this nation’. He added that the incident at the nightclub was not the first time he was racially abused in Ireland.
These are not random, isolated incidents. My own Ph.D. research in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College has uncovered many cases of racism amongst first- and second-generation Pakistani men.
Based in interviews and participant observation, I have found that many of the participants claimed to have been physically abused, harassed, and discriminated against whilst walking down the street, searching for employment, and in acquiring Irish citizenship.
The Irish are known worldwide for their warmth, generosity, and hospitality. I have witnessed this hospitality first hand not only in Dublin, but around the entire island. However, there seems to be a growing trend of racial harassment, discrimination, and violence against Pakistanis. Let us all strive to make these assumptions about the Irish a reality here in Ireland by standing up and putting a stop to racism.