Prevent - criminalising Muslims

During the first ten months of 2015, a total of 1,355 people under the age of 18 were referred to the government’s ‘Channel’ re-education programme for ‘suspected extremists’. This compares to 466 during the previous year. Between 2012 and 2016, 415 children under the age of 10 were referred to the programme. While the government pretends that the Channel programme is built on dialogue with faith leaders and communities, this is clearly not the case – instead this ‘re-education’ forms a central part of the government’s strategy to isolate and criminalise the Muslim community under the guise of defending the country from the threat of violent extremism, targeting in particular young and vulnerable working class Muslims. Becky Fry reports.

The ‘Prevent Strategy’ was first introduced under the 1997-2010 Labour government, and, while claiming to target all forms of ‘extremism’, both political and religious, focused predominantly on mosques, university Islamic societies and, prisons with large numbers of Muslim prisoners. In FRFI 246 we reported on how on 1 July 2015 this ideological offensive became the statutory ‘Prevent Duty’; section 26 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 states that all employees of councils, police forces, prisons, health services and schools have a duty to exercise ‘due regard’ to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Everyone working in public sector service provision, from leaders to frontline staff, is expected to look out for symptoms of ‘radicalisation’ and take action to notify the appropriate authority of any suspicions, based upon finding antipathy toward ‘British Values’

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Red door apartheid for asylum seekers

Jomast, the company contracted by the Home Office to provide housing for asylum seekers in the North East of England has finally agreed to repaint the characteristically red doors on their properties in Middlesbrough after reports of years of racist attacks hit the headlines.

Jomast, self-styled ‘urban regeneration specialist and pre-eminent force in the UK property market’, holds assets of more than £250m. Allegedly to cut costs, Jomast bought a lot of red paint to be used mainly on properties housing refugees. The Home Office’s forced dispersal policy means that Middlesbrough is home to 982 asylum seekers, one per 173 of the population, the highest proportion in Britain, breaching government guidelines. Middlesbrough has the second highest unemployment rate in Britain at 14.4%, and the End Child Poverty campaign reports that 35% of children in the city live in poverty. Refugees, after facing huge obstacles to enter Britain, are lumped in one of the most deprived areas of the country and singled out with a bright red door.

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Imperialism is to blame for the refugee crisis

The responsibility for the large number of refugees and migrants coming to Europe, fleeing climate change, poverty, war and violence, must be laid squarely at the feet of the imperialist system. Britain, one of the world’s major imperialist powers, has meddled in the affairs of these regions for centuries – plundering, exploiting and massacring millions to bolster the profits of imperialism. In FRFI 220 we pointed out that the campaign against Libya was the 46th British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa since the end of the Second World War. Since then, Britain has launched new airstrikes on Iraq, and has begun covert airstrikes on Syria. Britain is the world’s sixth-largest arms exporter. British imperialism is culpable in the causes of each flow of refugees and migrants. Any movement which fights in solidarity with refugees, must fight British imperialism. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Britain’s racist immigration history

Poster advertising public meeting in 1902 calling for restrictions on the immigration of 'destitute foreigners'. In 1905 Britain introduced the Aliens Regisration Act.

In response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s heartless stance in the face of the deaths of migrants, many commentators – from the Green Party to his own backbench MPs and Lords – have cited Britain’s ‘proud tradition’ of providing sanctuary to refugees fleeing persecution. NICKI JAMESON looks at the real history of Britain’s immigration laws.

Fleeing persecution – facing racism

Until the 20th century there were no laws regulating immigration to Britain. The first British immigration law was the 1905 Aliens Act, which was specifically designed to limit the numbers of impoverished East European Jews fleeing pogroms who could seek sanctuary in Britain. The Act was accompanied by a media campaign in which newspaper headlines railed against a threatened invasion of ‘dirty, destitute, diseased, verminous and criminal foreigner[s]’ (Manchester Evening Chronicle).

Further Aliens Restrictions Acts followed in 1914 and 1919, and in 1938 Britain introduced visa requirements for nationals of Germany or Austria. This directly reduced the possibility of seeking asylum for Jews fleeing Nazism.

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Cracks open up in Fortress Europe

Since the beginning of 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed Europe’s borders; hundreds of thousands more are expected to try to do so over the coming months. The vast majority are fleeing the ravages of imperialist-backed wars in Syria and Afghanistan; others are escaping civil war, poverty, desperation and human rights abuses in Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East that are the legacy of years of exploitation, intervention and under-development by imperialist nations. Many have risked their lives to reach safety and embark on a better life for themselves and their families in the wealthy countries of northern Europe. Their sheer determination has overcome all the brutal and racist attempts of Fortress Europe to shut its borders against them, and has exposed the deep fault-lines of the European Union. Tom Vickers reports.

A crisis of Europe’s making

The so-called crisis is not the inevitable result of the numbers of people involved. Migration is a global fact. There are an estimated 60 million refugees in the world today, in addition to millions forced to move because of economic necessity. The 500,000 unauthorised crossings since the start of the year reported by the EU’s Frontex enforcement agency is significantly higher than 2014, but still only amounts to 0.8% of refugees in the world and 0.1% of the population of the EU – a number that could easily be accommodated. The ‘crisis’ has been created by the response of the EU states.

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