An open letter to the prime minister, home secretary and other cabinet and shadow cabinet ministers, signed by groups including the Community Policy Forum, Refugee Council, and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, claims that the government has continually failed to “adequately address the dangers posed by Islamophobia and racism against vulnerable people seeking protection and racialised communities in the UK”.
The letter added: “With government ministers continuing to promote incendiary language labelling asylum seekers with harmful stereotypes and painting them as unworthy of sanctuary, there must be accountability for their role in normalising and tacitly endorsing the threats that asylum seekers now face."
The letter argues that the report on the government’s counter-extremism programme Prevent by William Shawcross that the programme had focused disproportionately on the far right and not enough on Islamist extremism, made use of “incomplete and skewed evidence to minimise the threat of the far right,” and called on the government to reject the recommendations of the Shawcross review.
The letter also referenced the far-right demonstrators who gathered in Knowsley to protest against asylum seekers who had been housed in a local hotel by the Home Office.
“The response to the violence and intimidation directed at refugees in Knowsley has highlighted the normalised far-right hatred in the UK,” it reads.
Fizza Qureshi, the chief executive of the Migrants’ Rights Network and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “The lack of acknowledgment about the role Islamophobia and racism played in the Knowsley riot is shocking but unfortunately unsurprising. At the Migrants’ Rights Network, we have been warning about the devastating impact hostile rhetoric and ideas can have on refugees and migrants for some time, and how it has emboldened the far right..."