With the horrific shootings in Copenhagen, Chapel Hill (US) and France, now more than ever we need unity against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and all hatred.
The current nationwide political discourse on race and immigration is one that feeds off myth and disinformation. As the premier cosmopolitan city in the world, London’s strength lies in its diversity. Whether it was the Irish immigrants who arrived in the nineteenth century to construct our railway network, or West Indian or South Asian immigrants today who form the foundations of our NHS, London is a city built on immigration.
It is invaluable to outline the way in which London was able to bring all communities together following the 7th July terrorist attacks, almost 10 years ago. It proved that unity is the only way forward to defeat terrorism of all kinds, and any reprisals which arise from blaming whole communities for these horrific acts.
Black, Muslim and Jewish lives all matter. The media coverage of France and Denmark was quite rightly top story and condemned internationally. But with ‘kill all Muslims’ trending on twitter after Charlie Hebdo without an international outcry, and the shooting of three Muslims in US receiving nowhere near the coverage that the deaths in France and Denmark received, we must stand against the idea that Muslim lives are considered cheap, and are second-class citizens.
We must also raise concerns about, and challenge those across the political spectrum and the media who sow division at these critical moments. The recent pronouncements by UKIP for example, which spoke of a fifth column, blamed immigration and diversity for the attacks in France and have recently called for the banning of Halal, with Kosher being ‘collateral damage’ – unveils the extent to which racism and anti-migrant hostility are at the fore of the pre-election period.
With the rise of UKIP, the average politician seems all too ready to fall in line with their toxic narrative. As long as these myths remain unchallenged it is no surprise that they appear to be general opinion. Fighting the 2015 general election on a UKIP agenda will simply will not work. No matter how much these issues are sensationalised it is a fact that immigrants, Muslims and Jews, black and brown people, are not, and could not be the biggest issue facing the average Briton. Far from falling into the political trap of pitting community against community it is time that the voices of the majority of people in this country who recognise the huge contribution migrants have made throughout history are heard.
The upcoming UAF conference will be an excellent opportunity to orientate and project anti-racist, inclusive answers to many of these pressing issues. The event will bring together a broad alliance of representatives from across society, with confirmations from Ken Livingstone, Dr Shuja Shafi of the MCB, Emily Thornberry MP, and of speakers from Syriza, Die Linke, a refugee from Vichy France, Muslim representatives from France, Trade Union general secretaries, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Operation Black Vote and many others now confirmed. It will give all those who oppose the politics of hate and division the chance to stand up against the ‘Farageation’ of our country.