Brexit vote fu­elled ‘anti-for­eigner’ feel­ing

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE Coun­cil of Europe voiced con­cern yes­ter­day at a rise in racist vi­o­lence in Bri­tain in re­cent years, adding that cam­paign­ing for the Brexit ref­er­en­dum led to a fur­ther rise in “anti-for­eigner sen­ti­ment”.

The Stras­bourg-based coun­cil, a hu­man rights and democ­racy watch­dog body sep­a­rate from the EU, said tabloid news­pa­pers no­tably fu­elled hate speech, while also lament­ing a sharp rise in anti-Mus­lim vi­o­lence.

In a re­port, the coun­cil’s Euro­pean Com­mis­sion against Racism and In­tol­er­ance (ECRI) con­demned “con­sid­er­able in­tol­er­ant po­lit­i­cal dis­course in the UK, par­tic­u­larly fo­cus­ing on im­mi­gra­tion”.

“It is no co­in­ci­dence that racist vi­o­lence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see wor­ry­ing ex­am­ples of in­tol­er­ance and hate speech in the news­pa­pers, on­line and even among politi­cians,” said ECRI Chair Christian Ah­lund.

“The Brexit ref­er­en­dum seems to have led to a fur­ther rise in ‘an­tifor­eigner’ sen­ti­ment, mak­ing it even more im­por­tant that the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties take the steps out­lined in our re­port as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity.”

In a shock ref­er­en­dum re­sult, Bri­tain voted on June 23 to leave the 28-na­tion Euro­pean Union.

Pro-Brexit sup­port­ers cam­paigned heav­ily on im­mi­gra­tion, and the need to re­gain control on Bri­tain’s bor­ders, in a ref­er­en­dum bat­tle fought against the back­ground of Europe’s worst mi­grant cri­sis since World War II.

The re­port by the ECRI, its fifth to cover the United King­dom, was com­piled based on in­for­ma­tion up to March 17 this year, three months be­fore the land­mark Brexit vote.

The re­port was not all neg­a­tive: It wel­comed, “among other things, the en­try into force of the Equal­ity Act 2010 and the gen­er­ally strong leg­is­la­tion against racism and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in the coun­try”.

It also noted “the gov­ern­ment’s new hate crime ac­tion plan and sub­stan­tial ef­forts to pro­mote LGBT rights in the UK which have led to a sig­nif­i­cant change in at­ti­tudes”. –

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