Racist Britain – same old story

Racist attacks are on the increase. Chinese, Asian and black people, and especially those whose ‘actual or perceived’ religion is Islam, are constantly subjected to sustained and brutal assaults. The Crown Prosecution Service recorded a 20% increase in reported ‘race hate crimes’ in 2002-03, despite its own racist prosecutors regularly reducing charges and downgrading crimes ‘to remove the race element’ (The Guardian, 7 April 2004). In the meantime, homelessness and overcrowding continue to climb in black and Muslim communities – 42% of Muslim children live in overcrowded homes compared to 12% nationally. Homelessness increased by 77% among ethnic minority households compared with 34% among the general population between 1997 and this year. For black people the figure is 89%. CHARLES CHINWEIZU reports.

Whilst walking home with his ten-year-old nephew in Coventry on 26 September, Jagdeesh Singh was racially abused then kicked and punched over 30 times by two white racists who referred to him as ‘Paki’ and ‘Bin Laden’ (Institute of Race Relations, 30 September). In Swansea, Kalan Kawa Karim, who had been imprisoned and tortured in Iraq, was murdered by a punch to the back of the head. The Iraqi community in Swansea says it is living ‘under a different kind of terror’ with at least one racist incident reported to police daily, and most incidents not reported at all (The Independent, 23 October).

In Rochdale, Greater Manchester, race hate crimes increased by 38% in the six months to June 2004, with 435 reports of crimes. Asians are the victims in 50% of cases. The real figure is undoubtedly higher. Manchester’s only Muslim school for girls has suffered a spate of horrible attacks, with windows smashed, computers stolen and ‘no niggers’ and swastikas daubed on the walls.

In Belfast, more than five racist or homophobic attacks take place every week; 129 ‘hate crimes’ were recorded in 183 days between April and September. (BBC Online, 27 October). The police were ‘dismissive of attacks’ including those on disabled people. In fact, British government legislation on hate crimes does not include attacks on the disabled.

The charity Victim Support has reported an 11-fold increase in racist attacks over the last decade. The 33,374 reported attacks in 2003-04 included racist mail, harassment and bullying at work or school, arson attacks on home and places of worship, wounding and assault.

Fascist Britain
These attacks are the inevitable manifestation of the Labour government’s policy towards Britain’s most vulnerable and marginalised community – asylum seekers. Since coming to power in 1997, Labour has introduced three major pieces of legislation on asylum and immigration, creating 28 new ‘offences’ that apply exclusively to immigrants and asylum seekers. New offences have also been extended to include those who help or employ ‘illegal’ immigrants. Restricted legal advice, poor decisions, a fictional appeals system and the withholding of medical treatment, accommodation and state support have meant that asylum is practically illusory in Britain.

The Home Office has now admitted secretly deporting Somali nationals to war-torn Mogadishu. 55 enforced returns were made in April-July, with a similar number over the first quarter of 2004. One Somali has been murdered (The Guardian, 18 June) and some were left stranded at Dubai airport because of the scruples of the African airline which couldn’t guarantee their safety in Somalia. Two mentally ill asylum seekers were deported on 18 October – Rabie Boulia, whose parents and six brothers live in London, had been imprisoned for two-and-a-half years in Norwich. He was so ill ‘he was eating his own faeces’. He understands little English and thought he was going to Brixton rather than Casablanca. The second man was a gay, Muslim, Russian journalist who made films about Chechen refugees, and made clear his intent to commit suicide if forcibly returned. (The Guardian, 18 October).

Only five (0.07%) of the 6,400 Iraqi refugees who arrived in the year to June 2004 have been ‘recognised’. The remainder have been left destitute as Blunkett pursues a policy of coercion to force them to accept ‘voluntary repatriation’ to a war zone being bombed by the Labour government.

Labour’s racist policy is having the desired effect – total asylum applications fell from 84,130 in 2002 to 49,370 in 2003 (and the refusal rate increased from 66% in 2002 to 83% in 2003). Meanwhile, the numbers invited in on temporary work permits have increased – from 42,844 in 1997 to a target of 175,000 in 2003. In 2000, exactly zero Somalis and Iraqis were issued work permits, whilst about 91,000 cheap labourers from Eastern Europe have been granted entry under the worker’s registration scheme since 1 May alone.

The work permit system is focused on a small number of specific occupational types: eight subgroups accounting for 71% of the total. These workers do the hardest, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs, mostly in nursing, catering, agriculture and food processing. 24% work in health and medical services. They have few or no rights and are paid a lot less than British workers. Those people issued permits in 2002 were mainly from India (21%), USA (11%) and South Africa (9%), as well as Malaysia, China and the Philippines. Their families are not allowed to join them and they have to leave after four years. The system has been extended to encourage more countries to become major suppliers of cheap labour to Britain. This exploitation is to guarantee the ‘competitiveness of the UK economy’, or in other words the profits of British imperialism.

FRFI 182 December 2004 / January 2005


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