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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
SDLP's Paul Doherty via Twitter Image of the flag that had been erected overnight.

PSNI investigate after Nazi flags reportedly erected near a mosque in Belfast

The flags have since been removed after being erected overnight.

POLICE IN THE North are treating reports that Nazi flags were placed on lampposts near a mosque in Belfast as a “racially motivated hate crime”.

The incident has been widely condemned by politicians.

A PSNI spokesperson said they had received a report of a “number of flags” having been erected overnight in the Ashley Park area of Dunmurry in west Belfast.

The PSNI’s Chief Inspector Brannigan said: “Our enquiries are at an early stage, however at this time, we are treating this report as a racially motivated hate crime.”

He appealed for anyone who may have information which may assist with enquiries to make contact with the PSNI.

The flags have since been removed.

SDLP West Belfast councillor Paul Doherty condemned the incident and said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful that these flags, a symbol of hate all over the world, have been erected outside a mosque.

“I’d like to send my solidarity to all those who worship at the Iqraa Mosque and School and praise the local residents who have quickly spoken out against this and made it clear that the people who put up these flags do not speak for them.”

He added that Dunmurry is a “welcoming area and a diverse community” and that it is “truly staggering to see flags of this nature erected in west Belfast”.

“This is an area that strongly rejects fascism and I cannot understand why anyone would target a place of worship in this way,” said Doherty.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll labelled it a “despicable and racially motivated action clearly designed to intimidate members of a minority community”.

“Fascism has no place in our community”, said Carroll. “I send full solidarity to the members of Iqraa Mosque and to all affected by this horrendous and racist act.

He added: “The far-right is whipping up Islamophobia and fear about immigration to divide people and scapegoat migrants for the economic and social problems facing our society.

“We need to make a renewed effort to overcome racism, to defend migrants and refugees, and to uplift all communities together in the face of government neglect.”

Sinn Féin MLA and former mayor of Belfast Danny Baker also condemned the incident, calling it “deeply concerning and disgraceful”.

He said it was a “clear and outrageous attempt to create fear and intimidate people” and called on anyone who may have information on the erection of the flags to contact police.