Calendar of Racism and Resistance (17 November – 1 December 2021)

Calendar of Racism and Resistance (17 November – 1 December 2021)


Written by: IRR News Team

A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.


Asylum and migrant rights

16 November: In France, the parliamentary committee on migration publishes a report which cites ‘systemic failures’ in the asylum and migration process, ‘irrational debates’ and dehumanising treatment. (Ouest-France, 16 November 2021)

18 November: An official review by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration finds that asylum procedures are badly deficient in nine respects, including ignorance of country conditions, stereotyping, a culture of disbelief, chronic delays and poor quality decisions. (Free Movement, 22 November 2021) 

20 November: Médecins Sans Frontières accuses the Home Office of covering up its own research into why refugees and asylum seekers come to the UK because it contradicts ministers’ claims of ‘pull factors’, used to justify deterrent policies. (Observer, 20 November 2021) 

29 November:  A study by Sexual and Gender Based Violence against Refugees from Displacement to Arrival (Sereda) finds that victims of sexual violence face additional abuse and trauma as a result of the UK asylum process and are being systematically let down. (Guardian, 29 November 2021)

Borders and internal controls

16 November: Three renowned international photojournalists are attacked and handcuffed by a group of men in Polish army uniforms in the village of Wiejki, close to the border with Belarus, but outside the area under the state of emergency. (News from Poland, 17 November 2021)

18 November: The Belarusian government clears the border forest camps and begins repatriating migrants to their countries of origin, mainly Syria and Iraq, as reports emerge of the death of a one-year-old Syrian child, in the forest on the Polish side of the border, following a knife attack on the family. The EU and US reject a Belarus proposal to take 2,000 migrants currently in the country. (Guardian, 19 November 2021; Euronews, 19 November 2021)

18 November: The Albanian government denies reports that it is in discussion about setting up processing centres for asylum seekers arriving in the UK, saying such an act would violate international law. (Guardian, 18 November 2021)

19 November: In Greece, a van carrying migrants crashes, killing 7 and injuring 8, as it tries to evade a police stop on the Egnatia highway. (Keep Talking Greece, 19 November 2021)

20 November: The European Court of Human Rights rules that Croatia violated the rights, including the right to life of 6-year-old Madina Hussiny, who was killed by a train after police refused to let her apply for asylum and drove her family back to the railway line, ordering them to walk to Serbia. (Guardian, 20 November 2021)

22 November: After reports that more than 75 people may have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya, aid workers call the sea a ‘liquid graveyard’. (Guardian, 22 November 2021)

24 November: In a letter to the European parliament, the Italian-based NGO Habeshia Agency calls for a ‘radical revision’ of policy towards Libya – now the ‘gendarme of the Mediterranean’. It forms a ‘blockade’ against asylum seekers on behalf of the EU; and an estimated 35,259 people could have been denied the right to seek asylum. (InfoMigrants, 24 November 2021)

24 November: Seventeen men, 7 women (one pregnant) and 3 children, thought to be Iraqi or Iranian Kurds, drown trying to cross the Channel from France in a small, fragile boat, 2 people are rescued. (BBC News, 24 November 2021)

25 November: Home Secretary Priti Patel is accused of hypocrisy for announcing she will ask media outlets to avoid using ‘dehumanising’ language such as ‘migrants’ to describe the people that drowned in the Channel, for she previously used the term ‘economic migrants’ to describe people she deemed ‘not genuine asylum seekers’. (Guardian, 25 November 2021)

26-28 November: French President Macron tells Boris Johnson to ‘get serious’ on the Channel crisis, saying twitter was not the place for important communications. An  invitation to the UK home secretary to attend a meeting on the issue is also withdrawn. At a European meeting of ministers, the French interior minister accuses British ministers, including Priti Patel of doublespeak on the Channel crisis – harsh public utterances contradict what is being said privately, thus impeding a resolution of the issue. (Guardian, 25 November 2021; Guardian, 25 November 2021; Guardian, 26 November 2021; Guardian, 28 November 2021)

26 November: The Italian-based Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration accuses the Greek police and Frontex officials of preventing it from conducting a technical-legal visit to the Greek border with Macedonia and for removing four Italian citizens from the EU territory in an ‘illegitimate manner’. (Balkan Insight, 26 November 2021)

Reception and detention

16 November: Police officers and gendarmes raid the 1,500-strong makeshift camp at Grande-Synthe, France, on the orders of Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. Camp-dwellers are dispersed to centres across France away from the coast. (InfoMigrants, 16 November 2021)

22 November: It emerges that asylum seekers arriving in Kent are being taken 500 miles to Dungavel, Scotland’s notorious immigration detention centre, for processing, which the SNP condemns. (Daily Record, 22 November 2021)

Dungavel House IRC gates
Dungavel immigration detention centre, Scotland. Credit: Azerifactory, Wikimedia Commons.

28 November: In Greece, two more ‘Closed Controlled Structures’ for migrants are opened on the islands of Kos and Leros. (Reuters, 28 November 2021)

23 – 29 November: Hearings begin in the public inquiry into allegations of brutality and mistreatment of detainees at Brook House immigration removal centre broadcast on a BBC Panorama programme in September 2017. A whistle-blower tells the inquiry why mistreatment he witnessed had forced him to video misconduct which ultimately led to the TV programme. (Brook House Inquiry, 23 November 2021; Guardian, 29 November 2021)

24 November: Around 150 asylum seekers are having to sleep outside in cold wintry conditions due to a reception crisis, according to protesters who gathered outside a government building in Brussels, Belgium. (RTBF, 24 November 2021)

25 November:  Twenty-seven NGOs and civil society organisations warn of a hunger crisis amongst refugees and asylum seekers because  Greece has halted its cash assistance to asylum seekers and prevented food support from civil society organisations, after implementing a law in October 2021 removing all services. (Greek Council for Refugees, 25 November 2021)

26 November: In Poland, 500 police officers are called in to support border guards quell a ‘riot’ of 100 men, mostly Iraqis, some under threat of deportation, at an overcrowded facility for detained border crossers, located in a military training ground in the village of Wedrzyn. (Notes from Poland, 26 November 2021)


29 November: A leaked Frontex report reveals that it has carried a record number of deportations of non-EU nationals (8,239, up 9%) in the first half of 2021. (Guardian, 29 November 2021)

Crimes of solidarity

15 November: At the Belarus/Poland border activists speak out against the intimidation, violence and threats of being charged as smugglers they experience from police and hostile groups for providing food and shelter to migrants. (Reuters, 15 November 2021)

18 November: The trial in Lesvos, Greece of 24 humanitarian volunteers, including Seán Binder and Sarah Mardini, on espionage charges is adjourned as the court cites lack of jurisdiction. (Guardian, 18 November 2021)

Seán Binder and his mother embrace outside the courtroom after the adjournment of the trial
Seán Binder and his mother embrace outside the courtroom in Lesvos. Credit: Katy Fallon, Twitter.

20 November: In Poland, three people, a German citizen and two Ukrainians, are arrested accused of aiding illegal entry from Belarus into the EU. 82 people are ordered to leave the country. (Deutsche Welle, 20 November 2021)


24 November: A report from cross-party MPs asks for the compensation scheme for Windrush victims, which has worked for just 5% of victims in 4 years, be removed from Home Office control. (Guardian, 24 November 2021)


17 November: According to the French education minister, the inclusive pronoun ‘iel’ (combining the words for he and she), is a linguistic woke affront that needs to be banned. (Guardian, 17 November 2021)

22 November: The French junior minister in charge of gender equality accuses  the European Commission of giving a platform to ‘radical Islamism’ after it hosted representatives from FEMYSO, a federation of Muslim youth and student  organisations (Europe 1, 22 November 2021). 

25 November: Former prime minister Tony Blair says current Labour leader Keir Starmer must ‘reject wokeism’ if he wants to win the next general election. (Independent, 25 November 2021)

26 November: An advisor to the Ministry of Justice , Dr James Orr and the Trinity Forum Europe’s executive director, Jonathan Aitken (former Conservative minister) are   criticised for hosting an online discussion between a Cambridge PhD student and  US academic Charles Murray, whose controversial arguments about  IQ and genetics have proved influential in white nationalist circles.  (Byline Times, 26 November 2021


See also Counter-terrorism and National Security for information on far-right terrorist connections 

17 November: The Royal Institution in London cancels its ‘Eric Zemmour in London’ function, citing the French far-right pundit’s previous convictions for racism. (Zemmour is currently on trial in Paris for inciting racial hatred by calling unaccompanied child migrants ‘thieves, killers and rapists’.) (Guardian, 17 November 2021)

17 November: The International League against Racism and Antisemitism condemns the defensive statements about the Vichy government made by Etienne Blanc, apropos Eric Zemmour, for which he was forced to resign from the presidency in Lyon of France’s establishment right-wing party. (Lyon Mag, 17 November 2021). 

17 November: The French minister of the interior announces the dissolution of the far-right group Alvarium based in Angers, because of its repeated anti-migrant protests and violence. (Ouest France, 17 November 2021).

20 November: In Austria, the extreme-right Freedom Party calls on people to take to the streets after the government announced a 20-day nation-wide partial lockdown and vaccination to be mandatory from February. 40,000 people, including the far-right Identitarians, demonstrate in Vienna, some wearing yellow stars reading ‘not vaccinated’.  (Observer, 21 November 2021; Deutsche Welle, 21 November 2021)

23 November: A website that raised money on behalf of the US Fightback Foundation for the defence of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot dead two anti-racists in Wisconsin in 2020, is hosted in North Yorkshire; some US websites linked to far-right activism are hosted in the UK and Europe. (Byline Times, 23 November 2021) 

23 November: Swansea-based musicians, writers, activists and community leaders sign an open letter urging the cinema company, Cinema & Co, to distance itself from far-right support for its campaign against Covid passes in Wales. (Voice Wales, 23 November 2021)

24 November: As Eric Zemmour visits Switzerland to meet with the Swiss People’s Party and the Radical Liberal Party, around 1,000 people demonstrate in Geneva. Despite the city refusing to rent halls to Zemmour’s supporters, the cantonal authorities allow a conference to go ahead. (Swiss Info, 25 November 2021) 

30 November: Eric Zemmour enters the presidential race, vowing to save France from destruction at the hands of Muslims, immigrants and criminals abetted by elites. (Times, 30 November 2021)

30 November: Ben Raymond, cofounder of the extremist National Action organisation, banned in 2016, is convicted of acting as ‘head of propaganda’ of a banned neo-Nazi terror group and of possession of documents on homemade detonators. (Guardian, 30 November 2021)


18 November: According to Home Office figures, stop and searches carried out by police in England and Wales have risen by 24 per cent to almost 700,000 in a year, and affect one in five male minority ethnic teenagers. (Guardian, 18 November 2021)

23 November: A Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report accuses a ‘broken’ criminal justice system of ‘failing’ people with mental illness, with Black, Asian and minority ethnic people over-represented in the system and also lacking appropriate services. (Independent, November 2021)

25 November: As the Police Bill reaches committee stage, ‘draconian’ amendments are introduced by the Home Secretary: to expand police powers of stop and search; to initiate a Serious Disruption Prevention Order, described by activists as a ‘protest Asbo’; and a mandatory life sentence for anyone who kills an emergency service worker in the line of duty. (iNews, 25 November 2021; Guardian, 24 November 2021)

27 November: Tens of thousands of Spanish police officers and their supporters, including members of the far-right Vox party, demonstrate in Madrid against government plans to liberalise and reform the Citizens Security Law, brought in by the former conservative government, which currently allows border guards to push back migrants and makes it illegal to publish images of police officers. (Euronews, 27 November 2021)

29 November: Following legal action by Liberty and Stopwatch, the Home Secretary reverses the decision to scrap Section 60 stop and search discrimination safeguards, admitting that the equality impact assessment which informed the decision was inadequate. (Liberty press release, 29 November 2021)


17 November: The head of anti-terrorism policing contradicts home secretary Priti Patel’s claim that terrorists exploit Britain’s ‘dysfunctional’ asylum system to stay in the country, pointing out that most are ‘homegrown’ and that domestic social issues are among terrorism’s root causes. (Guardian, 17 November 2021) 

19 November: Home Office figures show that twice as many young people in education are at risk of radicalisation by the extreme Right compared with those at risk to Islamic extremism (310 referrals compared to 157 in 2020/21). (Guardian, 19 November 2021)


24 November: Following several attacks in the community by asylum seekers with psychological disorders, Germany’s chief psychotherapist calls for better access to mental health services, pointing out that asylum seekers do not have the legal right to access psychotherapy during their first 18 months in the country, when they need it most. (InfoMigrants, November 2021).


26 November: The family of an 8-year-old Roma girl who was crushed to death over a number of minutes when she got caught twice in a metal sliding factory door in a factory in Keratsini, Greece, call for an investigation into racism. A video shows a shocking level of indifference from at least six people towards the girl dying in front of their eyes, with no one calling for help and one person even poking her body with his foot to see if she was dead. (Keep Talking Greece, 26 November 2021)


23 November: According to a study by the organisation We Belong, thousands of students, who may have lived in the UK for many years, but who have ‘limited leave to remain’ as an immigration status, are being denied student study loans. (Guardian, 23 November 2021)

30 November: Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that it is the most deprived schools that have been most significantly disadvantaged by education cuts over the past ten years. (Guardian, 30 November 2021)


20 November: The Serbian NGO Zrenjanin Action warns that 500 Vietnamese brought by their Chinese employer to build a car factory in Europe are living in deplorable conditions, without medical care for Covid and with wages withheld, and could be the victims of human trafficking or slavery. (Euronews, 20 November 2021)


While we cannot cover all incidents of racist abuse on sportspersons or their responses, we provide a summary of the most important incidents. For more information follow Kick it Out.

17 November: In Rouen, France, SOS Racisme and other anti-racist groups unveil a statue, honouring the one hundred unrecognised people of ‘colour’ or gender, who contributed to the country’s culture and history (76 Actu, 17 November 2021). 

19 November: Former England batsman Alex Hales apologises after a 2009 photo of him wearing blackface emerges. Whistle-blower Azeem Rafiq also apologises for sending antisemitic messages to a fellow player in 2011. (Guardian, 19 November 2021 

19 November: The BBC is criticised for giving a platform to Canadian academic and alt-right icon Jordan Peterson on Question Time. (The National, 19 November 2021)

19 November: English cricket issues an unreserved apology to Azeem Rafiq, saying the racism he experienced is a blight on the game, and promising to take swift measures to restore trust. This apology came after crisis talks at the Oval between the ECB, first-class counties and the sport’s other key stakeholders. (Guardian, 19 November 2021)

20 November: A dossier compiled by match officials, and seen by the Observer, alleges that racism in the Football Association’s refereeing system is undermining efforts by black and Asian people to reach the highest levels of the game. (Guardian, 20 November 2021) 

22 November: A hotline launched by Yorkshire Cricket, under its new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel, to enable people to report racism, has been contacted by 36 individuals in its first week. (Guardian, 22 November 2021) 

22 November: As Leeds City Council approve the application, Remember Oluwale launches a crowdfunding campaign for a plaque to David Oluwale, a Nigerian immigrant who was hounded by police, and finally chased to his death in the river Aire by two police officers in 1969, leading to their imprisonment for assault. (Crowdfunder, 22 November 2021)

30 November: The UK film classification board revises its position on the use of racist language and says that any programmes featuring the N-word should not be classified lower than 12A/12 unless in exceptional circumstances, such as due to educational value. (Guardian, 30 November 2021)

30 November: The Sunday Times’ current editor, Emma Tucker, welcomes as ‘valid’ criticism a report from the Muslim Council of Britain on the biased coverage of Muslims and Islam throughout the UK media. (Guardian, 30 November 2021)

30 November: Josephine Baker becomes the first black woman to enter France’s pantheon mausoleum of outstanding historical figures, some 50 years after her death. (France24, 30 November 2021)


17 November: The Good Law Project challenges the inquest verdict of suicide in the case of Dylan Lee, 19, on the grounds that the Assistant Coroner for County Durham and Darlington failed to investigate whether persistent racial harassment of Lee and his family, who are of Romani Gypsy heritage, played a part in the suicide. (Northern Echo, 17 November 2021)

18 November: Antisemitic vandals deface a Holocaust memorial in the northern Spanish region of Asturias. (Olive Press, 18 November 2021)

19 November: During Friday night, Lorraine crosses, a nationalist symbol, are daubed on two mosques in Besançon, France. (L’Est Républicain, 21 November 2021)

20 November: The police release images of two men following a racially motivated attack on a 34-year-old man who needed facial surgery after being hit in the face with a metal object after leaving a venue in Shoreditch, London in July 2021. (Evening Standard, 20 November 2021; BBC News, 27 August 2021)

23 November: After local police announce a significant increase in racist hate crime targeted at Chinese people, Dr Wei Sun, chair of the Cambridge Chinese Community Centre said many people in the community were afraid to walk around town alone. (BBC News, 23 November 2021)

25 November: A 61-year-old man is convicted for a racially and religiously aggravated road rage incident involving the use of an object on 24 June 2020 in Marlborough, Wiltshire. (Salisbury Journal, 25 November 2021)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Tania Bedi, Annabelle Woghiren, Graeme Atkinson, Lou Khalfaoui, Yewande Oyekan and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to the ECRE, whose weekly bulletin on asylum and migration issues is an invaluable source of information.

Headline image: Demonstration held outside the UK Home Office on 25 November following the deaths of 27 people crossing the Channel from France. Credit: @FrancescaHumi

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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