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Politicians and media fuel hate crime in Britain say experts

Professor Neil Chakraborti and Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy, from our Centre for Hate Studies, say the ‘toxic climate’ surrounding the EU referendum debate has helped to ‘embolden’ people to target those they regard as ‘different’ or ‘foreign’.

Professor Chakraborti said: “One key difference in the recent spate of hate incidents is that this behaviour has been fuelled and legitimised by politicians and by the media. Hostility towards ‘difference’ was present before the EU referendum but may have been largely confined to conversations in private spaces.

“However, the toxic climate surrounding the referendum debate enabled this hostility to surface within political speeches, on front pages of newspapers and in everyday conversations within pubs, in classrooms and on social media platforms. The focus shifted from issues relating to EU membership to the one big issue for Britain: namely, ‘Them’.

“When ordinary people have a political mandate to blame those who are different for society’s ills then the shackles of human decency are stripped away. “

Dr Hardy added: “It is evident from the videos of hate incidents which have emerged over recent days that people now feel emboldened to decide who has the ‘right’ to live and work in Britain. For some it is now seen as acceptable to target men, women, children and elderly people for being an EU migrant, for being a British-born minority, for being who they are.”

Professor Chakraborti and Dr Hardy add: “So what can we do about these problems? At an individual level we would urge all victims to report their experiences to the police or through a third-party reporting mechanism such as this http://www.report-it.org.uk. But collectively we all have a part to play in stamping out hate. If we witness a hate incident, let’s collectively condemn it, intervene or tell someone about it. If we see someone in distress, let’s offer our support and kindness. By responding with compassion we can all play a role in restoring Britain’s moral compass.”

The Centre for Hate Studies produced a short animated film designed to highlight ways in which we can all support hate crime victims without putting ourselves at any risk. The animation can be viewed on YouTube:

  • The Centre also produced an award-winning film that highlights the impact of hate crime. The ‘Harms of Hate’ can be viewed here:

 

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