Violence raged in Dublin Thursday night as protesters took to the streets and lit cars on fire after a man stabbed four people (five in some reports), including three children, earlier in the day. Rumors had spread that the suspect was an Algerian immigrant, but police have not released his identity, and the motive remains unknown.
That evening [after the stabbings], violent scenes broke out in the city after a group of rioters attacked police vehicles and set fires. Videos from the scene showed stores being looted, police cars and public buses aflame, and people clashing with police officers.
The scene was chaotic as looters smashed windows and stole merchandise while others threw projectiles:
Looting, fires, and fighting.— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) November 24, 2023
Chaos in Dublin overnight. pic.twitter.com/JmODpNhQl1
Irish police arrested a man in his 50s after the initial stabbings and said there is no evidence that the attacks were terror-related. They blamed the unrest on the spread of “misinformation” that the “far-right” was using to incite violence. Some rioters chanted, “Get them out,” presumably meaning immigrants.
“The facts are being established, but the facts are still not clear, and a lot of the rumor and innuendo is being spread for malevolent purposes,” Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said at an evening press conference.
Harris derided the public disorder in the city as “disgraceful.”
“I wish people would calm down, go home and allow us to actually conduct our duties and investigations properly,” he said.
An adult woman and a 5-year-old girl suffered serious wounds in the knife attack, while a 5-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl sustained less serious wounds. Brave bystanders tackled the assailant and held him until police arrived. The assault occurred at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Parnell Square in central Dublin.
It’s unclear where the rumor that the attacker was an immigrant originated, but some think that’s what inflamed the crowd:
The streets of Dublin tonight after the mass stabbing today. They’re protesting against mass immigration after 5 people including 3 children were stabbed outside a school, allegedly by an Algerian immigrant pic.twitter.com/S9e2bzCSQh— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) November 23, 2023
The riots come as many European countries struggle with immigration and the assimilation of different cultures into their countries. Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders won an unexpectedly large win in a major Dutch election Wednesday, causing media around the globe to have a meltdown because they consider him hard-right and “Trumpian.” He focused heavily on stemming immigration during his campaign, and his win shows that the issue has come to the forefront for many voters. As my colleague Bonchie wrote:
Immigration has also been a major issue as millions upon millions of Muslim refugees have entered Europe over the last decade as a result of civil wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. That has pushed welfare spending to the brink and caused crime to spike. Still, few EU governments have had the courage to react, seemingly for fear of being accused of bigotry. To be clear, Wilders has no such concerns.
Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that she was “deeply shocked” by the knife attacks but said unrest in the city “will not be tolerated.”
“A thuggish and manipulative element must not be allowed to use an appalling tragedy to wreak havoc,” she said.
“We will not tolerate a small number using an appalling incident to spread division. I would appeal for calm in the city center as Garda Síochána carry out their work. Attacks on members of An Garda Síochána must be utterly condemned and will be dealt with severely.”
There has been no formal announcement that the immigrant rumor started the rioting, but it certainly appears as if that’s what set them off. We will see if this is the start of a larger backlash or just a one-night event.