Michael Abiona

A Nigerian family was forced to vacate their new home in Belfast, Ireland after a series of protests and taunts.

Michael Abiona says he had to leave his government-owned home after a week of anti-immigrant protests that felt eerily similar to a racially motivated attack he experienced in the past. According to the Guardian, a group of people held up signs with Houses 4 Local People” and “We need Homes 2,” painted on them.

While the group claimed their protest wasn’t about race, Abiona, who was granted the house because he’s disabled, wonders why he was singled out.

“I am just worried about the atmosphere after this latest incident,” he told the Guardian. “The people protesting told me it was nothing to do with racism but I asked them why, if they have a grievance about housing in the area, are they picking on me?

“It might be indirect racism at best but it was very much direct intimidation. I tried to tell them that I am not the one who judges who gets a house and who does not. Actually they knew nothing about or the fact that I have lived in Belfast for four years and the UK for eight. ”

Belfast has experienced an uptick in racially motivated crimes as of late. Last year, anti-Black graffiti was sprayed on a house occupied by two Nigerian men, and this year racist attacks have increased.

Racist graffiti in Belfast, 2013. Photograph: Stephen Barnes/Demotix/Corbis

Racist graffiti in Belfast, 2013. Photograph: Stephen Barnes/Demotix/Corbis

Abiona has also been a victim of a racist assault. In 2011, he was chased by a group of teenage boys.

“This also took place in East Belfast and it involved teenage boys throwing stones and bottles at me as I passed by in the street,” he explained. “They then chased me down the street carrying iron rods and threatened me.

“Only for a good neighbor who saw what was going on and came out to take me inside his house, and stand up to these youths I would have been badly beaten up or worse.”

Protestors say their beef with Abiona has nothing to do with race, but rather housing. A local resident told the BBC, “We’re actually horrified we’re being called racist, because if you come up into our community at 3pm, and see the children getting out of school and the people, this is a mixed community.”

Liam Kinney of the Housing Executive said race was definitely a factor, and the situation was “becoming slightly worrying in Belfast over the past few months.”

Kinney explained, “We have probably over 10 cases now, particularly in south and east Belfast, where people have been prohibited moving into properties that were entitled to those properties.”

Abiona said he doesn’t want to leave Northern Ireland, but he’s afraid for his young son.

“The safety of my son comes first. His mother told me she would not allow him to come and visit me there,” he told the BBC. “My son comes first, so I’m not going to go back to the premises.”

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  • Taz

    Race and immigration is the issue here. Many people from African countries are moving to Ireland and getting benefits life long citizens have been denied. Just like in America its easier for a foreigner to own a business with a fresh new ss# and tax breaks whereas people born here have a harder time. I understand their frustration with the immigration system

    • eve-audrey

      So just because people come to your country and start businesses successfully you have the right to hate them? What kind of benefits do african immigrants get that native irish do not have? It is funny because now you sound just like white americans who complain black people get many benefits they do not have.

      Keep in mind that the african immigrants who succeed in europe have worked hard because people are not kind at all when they fail. Asians come in both europe and the usa and succeed better than all the natives. Why don’t they get as much vitriol?

    • Taz

      All I’m saying is I understand both sides. I understand the Irish and African immigrants. Its not about race to me. Many ppl have a problem with immigrants regardless of their race or country of origin.

    • Maralondon

      I don’t believe you do understand both sides in fact i know you don’t. It’s typical for Europeans to use immigrants as scapegoats when things are not going in their favour. Ireland along with many other Countries in the West claim to be bankrupt due to the so called recent economic downfall. As a result people have lost jobs homes etc.. This has lead to more people seeking help from the system. So how does the system deal with this? they make it harder for people in hardship to get assistance by cutting back on funds and services. Part of the Welfare reform. White people start to get uptight when they see someone who doesn’t look like them, doesn’t speak the same language get a little help with something they have an entitlement to, an entitlement which the system has created by the way. It doesn’t help either that the media and the Politicians fuel all this. People are so fickle it’s unreal. They couldn’t do enough for us, trust me, for the crimes they have committed on us and continue to do to this day.

    • Justin_Igger

      Let’s be real here. Niggers do not trespass into human civilizations to “start businesses”. We all know better. They trespass for free nigger handouts from the government. If not for this, then niggers wouldn’t trespass in the first place.

    • eve-audrey

      @ justin igger
      Lol is all i can say to you. i see many assholes like you were i am from jealous that people like me succeed better than them.
      Stay hating.

  • Casasanta

    Why in the world would anyone want to live in Ireland? It has to be better living conditions in Nigeria, than Ireland!! Are they that hard-up to be around caucasians? They just don’t care which kind, do they? Nigerians make me wonder!!!!!

  • Cumberbatchfan

    Crackas gonna crack.

    • Justin_Igger

      Nigger’s gonna die.

  • Ms. Vee

    Interesting. But whites feel entitled to settling in Africa if they so choose. The irony never ceases to amaze me

  • RCB

    Wow. How did I end up here? Anyway, there’s a tradition here in Ireland. Before you talk about something, learn about it. I’m Irish. This incident happened in a different country than where I’m from. DIFFERENT. COUNTRY. In east Belfast specifically, you won’t find Irish people living there. The people living in east Belfast are British, not Irish. Anyway, the issue isn’t really about race, Irish people get treated a lot worse there. I’ve lived around Europe, I’ve lived in the US. Anyone saying the US is less racist than Europe has no idea what they’re talking about. The US was built, literally, off of racism. It’s so much part of your culture you don’t even see half of it.