The National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) has condemned a Tory candidate's manipulation of
images from an anti-deportation protest to create a message of intolerance.
Turning the message 'let them stay' into one against immigration and 'chaos' is
symbolic of the dangerous way in which some politicians are trying to stir up
fear and intolerance for electoral gain.
NAAR is calling for a radical reappraisal of election campaigning, asking
politicians to back away from the dangerous xenophobic tone that marks much
debate, and is also calling for MPs across the spectrum to demonstrate respect
for all communities. NAAR - a broad coalition of Black and Jewish organisations,
trade unions, faith groups and others - is calling for party politicians to
change their tone, and to understand that anti-immigration, anti-asylum and
anti-traveller rhetoric has a major impact on the rise of racism and racist
NAAR endorses statements by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and
the Commission for Racial Equality. The UNHCR representative in Britain has
pointed to the drop in asylum claims - not the rise being claimed by some - and
has called for candidates to 'show responsibility by working towards reversing
the atmosphere of intolerance that has been fostered towards refugees and asylum
seekers'. The CRE has asked politicians to realize the effect their words are
having in contributing to a climate of hostility.
Lee Jasper, Secretary of NAAR said: "The exposure of Tory campaigning, which
manipulates an image of Tories on a pro-asylum rights rally, turning it into an
image against asylum seekers illustrates one thing - that asylum seekers are the
first casualty when parties sink into the gutter to gain votes. Air-brushing a
black asylum seeker family out of the image, to be replaced with draconian calls
on immigration, is nothing short of racism and must be condemned by Michael
Unfortunately this signifies the latest low move in a Conservative election
campaign, whose policies will effectively "airbrush" asylum seekers out of
society by pulling out of the Geneva Convention and proposing quotas on asylum
The climate created by hostilities on immigration is providing fertile ground
for a rise in racism and racist attacks. This can only aid the growth of the
fascist BNP, which welcomed the Tory campaign on asylum quotas, stating it
creates a 'win-win situation' for them. The BNP are standing around 112
candidates in the general election to spread their message in preparation for
local elections in 2006. To deny them this goal, every effort needs to be made
to isolate their message of hate.
The Tories' frenzied rhetoric on asylum seekers, Roma people and travellers
fuels a climate which allows the BNP to prosper. Instead of encouraging racism
and hostility towards marginalised and vulnerable communities, mainstream
politicians must dispel the myths and lies about race and minority communities:
playing with fear is always dangerous, but is particularly so when the BNP have
made significant advances and aim for a national breakthrough.
Political parties should listen to the growing and broad coalition of forces as
varied as UNHCR, the CRE and churches who warn against the tone of the election
campaign and its impact on society at large. Failing to hear this warning will
lay the ground for further BNP advance in the elections."
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