Editorial: Racist offensive can be countered

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Hate crime rose a staggering 18 percent in the year to October, with 83 percent of the increase fuelled by racist incidents. Official Home Office statistics reveal that another 11 percent of the increase was driven by bigotry and homophobia, 6 percent by religious hatred, 5 percent by incidents against disabled people and 1 percent involving attacks on transgender people.

The percentage — which in figures equates to a total of 52,528 crimes reported by the police — form the background to the Don’t Stand By campaign initiated by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which adopted the title to mark last month’s annual commemoration of the millions of people murdered by the Nazis.

The trust commissioned its own survey to reveal how widespread race hate crimes are. It found that a quarter of the British public had witnessed race hate over the past year, and more than a fifth of those questioned had seen an act of hostility directed at someone on the grounds of their religion or beliefs.

Taking up the theme of its campaign, the trust’s survey found that younger people were more likely to challenge violence or hostility against someone based on their race or ethnicity.

However, it also found that 69 percent of people regretted not intervening in such situations. Some 12 percent of respondents reported having been a victim of such an incident, and in 60 percent of those cases someone intervened to help.

These figures tell a stark tale about the effects of our government’s racist offensive, alongside the wider assault on Muslims and migrants.

In this issue of Socialist Review Christine Buchholz, a German MP for the Left Party, reports on the worsening situation in Germany following the horrific sexual assaults on women attending New Year celebrations in Cologne. As she shows, the positive feeling towards refugees of last summer and autumn can quickly turn when governments and the media deliberately whip up racism.

Yet many ordinary people are still organising to help refugees, through collections, trips to camps and political campaigns.

Raya Ziyaei, an 18 year old activist from Yorkshire, writes powerfully about a trip to the Dunkirk refugee camp, exposing the atrocious conditions people are living in. The political conclusion is clear — we must fight for Cameron to let the refugees in.

We have to turn the racists back — that means mobilising tens of thousands for the UN anti-racism day demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow on Saturday 19 March.