Immigrants an 'asset' to NI society

Published Tuesday, 10 June 2014
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A Somali man, who left his country after civil war broke out over 20 years ago, says people come to Northern Ireland because of its great potential and the opportunities available and that immigrants are an "asset" to society.

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Racism has dominated the news agenda following comments made by a north Belfast pastor last month.

Rallies have been held in Belfast in a show of solidarity, most recently on Tuesday night in the west of the city after a 36-year-old Nigerian man was beaten in a racially motivated attack.

Suleiman Abdulahi - a Somali Muslim - came to Northern Ireland because he wanted to make it a home for him and his family.

He works as a translator in the courts and has set up charity Horn of Africa to help people from the region who have moved to Northern Ireland.

He told UTV: "I wanted to venture out and see Northern Ireland. I didn't want to sit in the one place.

"I am a social entrepreneur and I wanted to move to as many places as I can and hopefully create a lot of friends everywhere I go."

A lot of people see refugees as a liability, but we see them as an asset to society.

Suleiman Abdulahi

Suleiman has also helped to establish the cross-cultural football team for children, the Suffolk Swifts.

He added: "There is a lot of potential here, the kids we see want to be doctors, lawyers, police officers.

"I am a businessman and there is a lot of potential here."

Suleiman, like many other people who come to contribute to society, he has been the victim of racist abuse.

He said he was left frightened after he was told he "would pay the price" for bringing "black and foreign people" to Northern Ireland.

Suleiman went on: "I don't know the price I will have to pay he talked about, but that was frightening.

"Here in Northern Ireland we live a normal life for most of the time.

"Sometime there are problems, but I believe this current crisis will create an opportunity.

"People have already started dialogue and are beginning to understand the whole society and what faith means."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Belfast in Belfast wrote (228 days ago):
I play for them
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (229 days ago):
More of an asset than some religious hate preacher.
Brian in Belfast wrote (229 days ago):
Some of these racists are forgetting their grandparents and great grandparents traveled all over the world to work.
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