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Sectarian Riots in Belfast

June 22, 2011

Violence has broken out in East Belfast for the past two nights between Catholics and Protestants. East Belfast is known as a predominantly Protestant area, but there is a small Catholic community known as Short Strand.  The paramilitary organization the Ulster Volunteer Force is believed to have instigated the conflict on Monday evening targeting the Short Strand community.  Two days of rioting and confrontations with the police ensued in one of the most violent conflicts since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Guardian reports that “Petrol bombs, fireworks, bottles and bricks were among items thrown at police during a second night of the worst violence in east Belfast for many years.”  There have been many troubling events in the past four months linked to sectarianism. A foiled bomb plot, a murder, and death threats to the manager of a soccer team in Scotland have all been the result of rising sectarian trouble. It is going to be a difficult task for the police to arrest those responsible before the threat of escalating violence becomes a reality.

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