Racist graffiti plagues Ipswich

A VICTIM of a racially motivated vandalism attack spoke of his horror today as fears of an escalation of racist graffiti in Ipswich grew.

A VICTIM of a racially motivated vandalism attack spoke of his horror today as fears of an escalation of racist graffiti in Ipswich grew.

Ipswich grocer Koysor Miah, who is a member of Ipswich's Muslim community, spoke of his shock after vandals daubed a string of swastikas and racist abuse on shops and a mosque in the town.

Mr Miah said the attacks would frighten worshippers at Shahjalal Mosque after it was one of seven buildings targeted this week.

Abusive words were scrawled on the mosque and the side of Al-Amin Halal Grocery, both on St Helen's Street, and also on the exterior of a Suffolk New College building on Rope Walk.

Swastikas were painted on a newsagent's shutter and the side of the Millennium Martial Arts Centre building, both on St Helen's Street, as well as in a subway on St Matthew's Street and on a front wall of a Norwich Road property.

All the incidents apart from the swastika in Norwich Road were reported to Ipswich Borough Council on Tuesday.

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Mr Miah, 35, who owns Al-Amin and worships at the mosque, said: “This is getting worrying. It's happening more frequently and I don't know what they want to achieve.

“I care for everyone who comes to the mosque - the older people will be frightened.”

The businessman said he had suffered racist abuse from teenagers outside his shop a fortnight ago and they had knocked on his window and repeatedly opened and shut the door to annoy him. Someone has also repeatedly knocked on the door of the mosque in the middle of the night for weeks.

Racist graffiti was also daubed on the mosque two years ago, he added.

He said the police had responded quickly to his complaint this week.

One of the owners of the newsagent, who was too upset to be identified, said it was the first time the shop had been targeted in nine years.

Jane Basham, director of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, said: “Overt racist graffiti is thankfully rare but racism is alive and kicking in Suffolk. The fact that graffiti has been removed so quickly is encouraging.”

Ipswich Borough Council has painted over the abuse and graffiti at all but one of the sites.

A spokesman said: “There have been a number of incidents of offensive and racist graffiti. We have taken action immediately to remove it.

“Anything that is offensive or racist we make a top priority. We urge anyone who sees someone writing it to contact police. Anyone who wants it removed should call our Cleaner Ipswich hotline on 01473 433000.”

Suffolk police today urged anyone who spotted racially offensive vandalism to report it immediately.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Suffolk police take any incident which may be racially motivated extremely seriously, and would encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim of a racially motivated crime to report it immediately to the police.”

Anyone with information should call Acting Inspector Karl Nightingale at Ipswich police on 01473 613500.

No-one from MMA was available to comment.

n Have you been a victim of racist abuse or graffiti? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

SUFFOLK County Council's Racial Harassment Initiative dealt with 445 victims of racial harassment ranging from abuse to assaults in 2006-07, an increase of three per cent on the previous year.

It referred 21 victims of racist abuse for specialist counselling.

The initiative launched a 'third party' reporting centre at West Meadows gypsy and traveller site aimed at encouraging residents to report racial harassment.

It also uses performing poets in schools to raise awareness of racism.

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