“I was simply walking to college while black”: Welfare Officer-elect speaks out after physical attack

Hamza Bana was struck in the face by a stranger on O’Connell bridge on Monday

TCDSU Welfare Officer-elect Hamza Bana has spoken out after being physically attacked on O’Connell Bridge earlier this week.

While walking to College on Monday, Bana was struck in the face by a stranger who immediately ran to rejoin a group of other men.

Bana, who is the current ethnic minorities officer of TCDSU, said that upon seeing the group “I knew to swallow my anger and walk off, simply because I was outnumbered and did not want for my sore cheek to turn into fractured bones”.

Speaking to Trinity News, Bana talked of the heightened fear he has felt since the anti-immigration riots which rocked Dublin in November.

“Since the riots, going into Dublin has been off-putting for myself knowing that the people I share my nationality with don’t consider me Irish.”

“However, I told myself that I can’t let the minority of people that think like this be the reason why I’m afraid to go to my college that I worked hard to get into,” he added.

Bana emphasised that “there was no reason” for him to be targeted: “I didn’t do anything to be a victim of a hate crime. I didn’t wear anything that could’ve painted me as a target, I didn’t say anything to provoke him, I was simply walking to college while black.”

While statistics on hate crimes in Ireland for the past year are not yet available, a report published in December found that a majority of people in Ireland view the issue as a “serious and growing problem”.

In 2022 there were 143 hate-related incidents reported to An Garda Síochána, up from 52 in 2021.

Recent months have seen increased concern about hate crime and the rise of the far-right, while new legislation on hate crime proposed by government has been the topic of significant debate.

“The far-right operates under the guise of ‘protecting their women and children’ when in reality they are racist and hate to see the same people they despise share the space they fought ten times harder for,” Bana said.

Upcoming local elections are expected to tell a lot about the growing influence of the far-right in Irish politics, with the coordinator of the Hope and Courage Collective warning of the need to counter anti-immigration sentiment.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.