Calendar of Racism and Resistance (20 June – 4 July 2023)

Calendar of Racism and Resistance (20 June – 4 July 2023)


Written by: IRR News Team


A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.


Asylum and migrant rights

21 June: The Greek asylum authorities are criticized for upgrading their Asylum Service database leaving users unable to claim asylum, renew asylum seeker cards or receive residence permits, travel documents and other essential documentation.  (MobileInfoTeam, 21 June 2023

25 June: The Home Office creates the Illegal Migration Intake Unit and officially instructs staff to call refugees arriving in small boats ‘illegal entrants’. Asylum decision makers transferred to the new Illegal Migration Relocation and Returns Service are given no choice other than to detain or remove people arriving on small boats. (Independent, 25 June 2023)

26 June: Concerns are raised about the high rate of rejected family reunion applications, as freedom of information data between 2019 and 2022 reveals 66% are overturned on appeal, which represents 1,386 out of a total of 2,106 applications. (Guardian, 26 June 2023)

27 June: A report by Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit shows that the five-fold increase in delays for processing asylum claims from lone children has a devastating impact, leaving children at risk of suicide and self-harm. (Guardian, 27 June 2023) 

28 June: A new report by the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre and four other European institutions shows how the increasing reliance on AI and automation for the asylum process can violate the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. (InfoMigrants, 28 June 2023)

2 July: The requirement for victims of trafficking to provide immediate evidence to be accepted as victims of slavery is withdrawn, as the home secretary says no negative reasonable grounds decisions will be made until replacement rules are provided. (Guardian, 2 July 2023) 

2 July: The ‘New Conservatives’, a grouping of Conservative MPs, issues a report to the prime minister, including a twelve-point plan for a series of further restrictive immigration controls on care workers, students and refugees. (Guardian, 2 July 2023)

Borders and internal controls

22 June: On the first anniversary of attacks that caused the death of at least 37 asylum seekers and migrants at the Morocco-Spanish border enclave of Melilla, Human Rights Watch condemns the lack of a credible investigation and the denial of access to official information and support for victims’ families. (Human Rights Watch, 22 June 2023)

24 June: Frontex says it is considering suspending activities in Greece, having received no reply to an offer of additional assistance, including sending a plane from Italy to monitor the trawler that subsequently sank off the Southern Peloponnese with the latest confirmed death toll standing at 82. (Politico, 23 June 2023; Politico 24 June 2023)

26 June: Activists monitoring the case of nine Egyptian men on trial for human trafficking in relation to the shipwreck in the Southern Peloponnese, Greece, says the case is based on ‘fragile evidence’ and ‘flawed procedures’, and that the detainees have not had access to interpreters and other legal rights. The men are reportedly on hunger strike. (Middle East Eye, 26 June 2023)

Reception and detention

21 June: A private company, Commisceo Primary Care Solutions, is awarded a £1.1 million contract over 18 months to provide health services at the RAF Werthersfield site where the government plans to accommodate 1700 asylum seekers. (Independent, 22 June 2023) 

23 June 2023: Edinburgh councillors raise concerns with the UK government about plans to house asylum seekers on a ship at Leith docks, MS Victoria, which has housed more than 1,000 Ukrainians, the last of whom are expected to be moved to settled accommodation. (Scotsman, 23 June 2023)

23 June: 55 asylum seekers with severe disabilities and life-limiting conditions are abandoned in a former care home in Essex, staffed as an asylum seeker hotel but without trained care workers or nurses. Tendring council says it ‘robustly’ expressed concern about the unsuitability of the site to the Home Office. (Guardian, 23 June 2023)

23 June: The Home Office prepares to reopen a Hove hotel for unaccompanied children and young people, from which 50 children and young people disappeared and have not been found, and later admits that an unaccompanied 9-year-old was housed there. Brighton and Hove City Council leaders aim to prevent its reopening. (Guardian, 25 June 2023; Guardian, 30 June 2023)

24 June: A Sunday Mirror and Liberty Investigates report reveals a serious level of physically abusive and racist behaviour by staff at immigration detentions centres, including the kicking of a mentally unwell 14-year-old. (Mirror, 24 June 2023)

25 June: Detainees at Harmondsworth detention centre protest unbearable conditions, where two people are housed in each 2×2 metre, windowless room, claiming they have no access to health-care, food and water. At the same time, the Home Office plans to increase deportations to 3,000 a month. (Guardian, 25 June 2023)  

Protesters outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres
Protesters outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres. Credit: SOAS Detainee Support.

27 June: The European Court of Human Rights awards each of 67 migrants €5,000 in compensation and €1,000 to cover legal costs following their complaint against inhumane treatment they received at the now defunct Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos in 2017 and 2018. (InfoMigrants, 27 June 2023) 

29 June: A report by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment raises concerns that people held in the Manston processing centre may have been subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment. (Guardian, 29 June 2023)

30 June: Councils express concern over the Scottish government’s plans to open a reception centre for unaccompanied asylum seeker children. (Daily Record, 30 June 2023)

3 July: The Immigration Monitoring Board reports that the Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre is unsuitable for use, and that women held there face unfair and inhumane treatment. (North East Bylines, 3 July 2023)


29 June: Court of Appeal judges rule that it is unlawful to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for asylum application processing as there is a real risk of refoulement. The prime minister says that the government will seek to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. (Guardian, 29 June 2023, Guardian, 29 June 2023) 

Protesters holding placards outside the High Court during the judicial review hearing of the Rwanda policy
A protest outside the High Court during the Rwanda policy hearing. Credit: Steve Eason, Flickr.

30 June: Home Office data obtained in a Freedom of Information request shows that in the period January 2021 to March 2023, 24,083 asylum seekers received a notice of intent warning of their forcible removal. (Guardian, 30 June 2023)

Crimes of solidarity

20 June: The Aurora, a search and rescue ship operated by Sea Watch, is detained in Lampedusa, Greece for ‘disregarding a government decree’ that orders boats to proceed immediately to an assigned port once a rescue operation is complete. (Are You Syrious, 20 June 2023) 


As anti-migrant, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI rhetoric in electoral campaigning are increasingly interlinked, we reflect this in the coverage below which also includes information on the influence of the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally.

See also POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM section below for more information on the shooting of Nahel Merzouk and its aftermath.

21 June: Ivan Exposito, the new Vox party mayor of Naquera, Spain, announces a ban on displaying the LGBTI rainbow flag in public buildings and pledges to rename campaigns against gender-based violence ‘campaigns against all violence’. (SaltWire, 21 June 2023)

22 June: Finland’s new minister of economic affairs, Vilhelm Junnila (Finns Party), apologises in a Facebook post for making ‘mistakes’, including speaking at an extreme-right group’s event and joking about the Nazi code word ‘88’. (YLE, 22 June 2023)

22 June: Following the circulation of a 30-second video showing a black man with drug problems and severe mental health issues attempting to kidnap a child in Bordeaux, France, Marine Le Pen tweets that the ‘worsening of delinquency’ is ‘linked to the explosion of anarchic immigration’, and Éric Zemmour urges France to ‘wake up’. The child’s family object to the distribution of the video and its media spin. (Unherd, 22 June 2023)

22 June: Research from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue concludes that Conservative MPs and peers are mainstreaming hostility to drag events, which are increasingly being targeted by far-right groups and self-styled ‘child protection’ advocates as part of a wider anti-LGBTQ+ movement. (Guardian, 22 June 2023)

26 June: With 46.7% of the vote in the first round, Alternative for Germany candidate Robert Sesselmann wins 52.8% of the vote in the run-off in Sonneberg, Thuringia, becoming the party’s first district administrator to hold an anti-immigration, anti-climate protection stance. (Deutsche Welle, 23 June 2023; Deutsche Welle, 26 June 2023; Reuters, 26 June 2023)

26 June: The general election in Greece returns the most right-wing parliament the country has seen since democracy was restored in 1974. New Democracy (Conservatives) emerge as outright winners, with the nationalist Greek Solution, the ultraconservative Niki (Victory) and the far-right Spartans, a reincarnation of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, gaining 13% of the vote and 34 seats. (El Pais, 26 June 2023; BBC News, 26 June 2023)

30 June: Finland’s far-right minister of economic affairs, Vilhelm Junilla, resigns after it is revealed that in response to a 2019 parliamentary question on climate change, he suggested the promotion of ‘climate abortion’ as a ‘great leap forward for humanity’, with reference to the ‘underdeveloped societies of Africa’. (Guardian, 30 June 2023)

30 June: In Spain, the Conservative Popular Party and far-right Vox reach a deal to jointly govern the southwestern Extremadura region, the third regional agreement of its type. (The Local,  30 June 2023)

2 July: The Swedish government condemns but still permits an Islamophobic protest outside Stockholm’s main mosque, during which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden stomps on and burns the Qur’an. (Guardian, 2 July 2023) 

2 July: Alternative for Germany’s Hannes Loth wins a local election in the small town of Raguhn-Jessnitz, Saxony-Anhalt, becoming the party’s first ever mayor in the country. (Deutsche Welle, 2 July 2023)

3 July: The House of Commons votes to ban public bodies from boycotting Israel and other countries. 68 civil society groups including the Institute of Race Relations sign a statement against the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill, with Amnesty International stating that it is incompatible with the European Convention for Human Rights. (Guardian, 3 July 2023; The New Arab, 2 July 2023)

3 July: The leader of Poland’s Civic Platform, Donald Tusk, accuses the extreme-right government of allowing ‘uncontrolled’ immigration from Muslim countries in a video, where he says that despite ‘shocking scenes of the violent riots in France’, the government prepares legislation that ‘will allow even more citizens from countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Nigeria or the Islamic Republic of Iran to come to Poland’. (Notes from Poland, 3 July 2023)

4 July: Following five days of violence across France, Les Républicains vice president and leader suggest that 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, who was shot dead by a police officer, is partially responsible for trying to avoid a police check. Eric Ciotti, LR’s head, describes the ‘rioters’ as ‘barbarians’, attacks ‘mass immigration’ and calls for the revocation of citizenship for dual-national ‘rioters’. Politicians fail to condemn a fundraiser for the family of the officer who killed the teenager. (Le Monde, 4 July 2023)

4 July: The French president meets with 220 mayors from towns that suffered violence following the death of Nahel Merzouk. (Le Monde, 4 July 2023)


With anti-migrant, anti-Muslim, anti-equalities, anti-abortion, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQI activities increasingly interlinking, we now incorporate information on the Christian Right as well as the religious Right generally.

23 June: Podcaster Kristofer Kearney, who ran the Fascist Fitness channel and was formally part of an army parachute regiment, is believed be the first member of Patriotic Alternative to be convicted of terrorist offences after sharing posts encouraging violence against Jews and Muslims, including a ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letter. (BBC News, 23 June 2023)

24 June: 25-year-old Ben Styles from Leamington Spa is jailed for collecting extreme-right terrorist material and possession of a prohibited firearm. (BBC News, 24 June 2023)

29 June: Police raids on a far-right Bandidos biker gang in Upper and Lower Austria lead to the seizure of around 100 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and grenade launchers, and Nazi paraphernalia. Six arrests are made. (Brussels Times, 29 June 2023)

30 June: A French court finds four neo-Nazis guilty of plotting attacks against mosques and Jewish targets via the online chat group Operation WaffenKraft. Alexandre Gilet, their ringleader and former volunteer police officer, receives an eighteen-year sentence, with non-custodial sentences issued to the remaining three. (The Local, 1 July 2023) 

1 July: Analysis of voting in polling stations close to police stations in Athens, Greece, suggests that between 10 to 20 per cent of police officers in those districts voted for the far-right Spartans. (Hellas Posten, 1 July 2023)

2 July: Two hundred counter-protesters mobilise against the far-right East Anglian Patriots when they attempt to demonstrate outside the Best Western Brook Hotel in Barnard, Norwich, protesting its temporary use to accommodate refugees. (Daily Mail, 2 July 2023) 


21 June: The University of Manchester’s Prosecuting Rap project identifies more than 70 trials from 2020 to 2023 in which rap evidence was used by police and prosecutors. Almost half recorded cases featured defendants under the age of 18, and a pattern is shown in which police officers appear as ‘rap experts’, with some linked to the Met’s online surveillance initiative, Project Alpha. (Guardian, 21 June 2023)

22 June: After community leaders complain to Avon & Somerset police about the unnecessary handcuffing of a 14-year-old back boy in Bristol, the police apologise to the boy and his family. (BBC News, 22 June 2023)

26 June: An investigation by the BBC reveals that serious police errors led the now deceased Matthew White, a sixth suspect in the murder of Stephen Lawrence, to escape investigation. (BBC News, 26 June 2023) 

 30 June: Edwin Afriyie, a black youth worker who was tasered in 2018 after a road traffic stop by City of London police, loses a case for damages in the High Court. One judge states that the officer was justified in using the taser because he feared that Afriyie, who ‘was a large’, ‘agitated’ and muscular man’, would ‘aggressively resist arrest’. (Guardian, 30 June 2023)

The police shooting of Nahel Merzouk in France and its aftermath

26 June: Youths from the banlieues clash with police in Paris and other French cities after Nahel Merzouk, a French 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan heritage, is shot dead by a police officer following a traffic stop in Nanterre. Officers’ claims that the car was driven at them falls apart when footage shows the vehicle stationary as an officer draws his weapon. A voice is heard saying ‘You are going to get a bullet in the head’. The president terms the shooting ‘inexcusable’ and calls for calm. (Guardian, 27 June 2023)

27 June: 150 arrests are made on a second night of anger across France following the fatal shooting of Nahel, with 2,000 riot police, armed with flash balls, deployed around Paris. After some town halls and police stations are torched, interior minister Gérald Darmanin describes it ‘as a night of unbearable violence against the symbols of the republic’. (Guardian, 28 June 2023)

29 June: An estimated 15,000 people join a Truth and Justice Committee ‘marche blanche’ called by Nahel’s family and supporters, reconstructing Nahel’s last drive and ending at the Nanterre Préfecture, where protesters are teargassed. Insurrections erupt across France and 875 arrests are made. A 38-year-old police officer is charged with the voluntary homicide of Nahel and placed in provisional detention. (Guardian, 30 June 2023; Al Jazeera, 29 June 2023; Crimethinc, 2 July 2023)

The marche blanche for Nahel Merzouk. A justice pour Nahel banner with a large crowd behind it.
The marche blanche for Nahel on 29 June. Credit: Silanoc, Wikimedia Commons.

29 June: Protests against the death of Nahel spreads to Brussels, Belgium, where 14 people have died after police contact since 2017. After 65 arrests are made in the Annessens neighbourhood, the prime minister says ‘What is happening in France has nothing to do with what is happening in our country’. (Brussels Today, 30 June 2023)

30 June: According to testimony from one of the passengers in Nahel’s car, the teenager had stopped and rolled down the window as instructed by the police. ‘When he was hit with a rifle butt for the third time, his foot let go of the brake pedal, and the car moved forward’ before he was shot dead. (Le Monde, 4 July 2023)

30 June: Autonomous media outlet Contre Attaque publishes video evidence claiming that police teargassed a march for Nahel in Anvers, pushing some demonstrators into a side street where neo-Nazis were waiting armed with iron bars and baseball bats. (Contre Attaque, 29 June 2023)

30 June: The French national football team appeals for calm as police make around 1,000 arrests on the fourth night of rioting in France.  (The Local, 1 July 2023)

30 June: In a joint statement, Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police Union refer to the rioters as ‘vermin’ and ‘savage hordes’ with whom they are ‘at war’, threatening a revolt if the government does not restore order. The far-right Syndicat France Police is threatened with dissolution after welcoming the shooting of Nahel in a since deleted tweet. (Barron’s, 30 June 2023)

1 July: On the fifth night of rioting in France, 45,000 police, gendarmes and tactical units are deployed across the country, making 700 arrests and launching an investigation of attempted murder following an arson attack on the home of the mayor of L’Haÿ-les-Roses. The justice ministry says that 30% of those arrested are minors, with an average age of 17. (Guardian, 1 July 2023)

2 July: A GoFundMe campaign set up by former National Rally far-right commentator Jean Messiha, an ally of Eric Zemmour, to support the family of the police officer who shot Nahel dead, stating that he has ‘done his job and is now paying a high price’, quickly receives over €1m from approximately 50,000 donors. (Mirror, 2 July 2023; Le  Monde, 3 July 2023)


22 June: University admissions service UCAS warns that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are in danger of being squeezed out as university application numbers are expected to hit 1 million by the end of the decade, a 30 percent increase on today. (Times Higher Education, 22 June 2023) 

23 June: City of London & Hackney Child Safeguarding Children Partnership publish the Child Q update report. (CHSCP, 23 June 2023)

23 June: The mother of a Year 9 black student at Desborough College in Maidenhead, Berkshire, says she has been let down by his school upon discovering 20 racist messages placed in the boy’s school satchel after no action was taken to address a prior incident reported to the school. (Mirror, 23 June 2023)

24 June: A Guardian investigation suggests that, since the pandemic ended, there has been an escalation of permanent school exclusions across the country, with Pupil Referral Units being asked to take on more children than their capacity allows. (Guardian, 24 June 2023)

3 July: A report by the APPG for students finds that 72% of further education students in England face ‘financial difficulties’, with a massive increase in applications for bursary support. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to study in FE colleges, with many facing extreme poverty, working excessive hours in insecure jobs, and facing increased criminal and sexual exploitation and suicide attempts. (Guardian, 3 July 2023)


2 July: Debt Justice warns the number of households struggling with heavy debt has increased by two-thirds since 2017, with almost 13 million adults struggling to pay bills. In England, the number of individual voluntary agreements, where the debtor is bound to obliged back creditors over a certain period, has reached its highest number since 1990. (Observer, 2 July 2023)


21 June: British children who grew up during the years of austerity are shorter than their peers in many European countries, a study finds, with Britain falling 30 places in a rating of 200 countries. Another study finds that dietary inequalities in children from poorer backgrounds are driving problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay. (Guardian, 21 June 2023)

25 June: The mother of Phephisa Siphelele Mabuza, who was found dead by police four days after he experienced a mental health crisis and was told that he had to wait up to 28 days for an assessment, joins those calling for a judicial review to ensure that an independent inquiry commissioned by the Essex Partnership university NHS Trust into the death of almost 2,000 mental health patients is given statutory inquiry status. (Guardian, 25 June 2023) 


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.

21 June: In response to Barbican staff requesting that panelists avoid the topic of ‘free Palestine’ before cancelling the event on 15 June, design collective RESOLVE prematurely withdraw their exhibition from display in an act of solidarity. (Funambulist, 21 June 2023) 

 22 June: Barcelona’s basketball team call for a firm response from the Spanish league after racist insults are hurled at their Nigerian player, James Nnaji, in a Euroleague fixture with Real Madrid. Anger grows at the continuing racist abuse faced by Real Madrid’s Brazilian football star Vinicius Jr. (Al Jazeera, 22 June 2023)

23 June: The Mathias Corvinus Collegium, a private foundation linked to prime minister Viktor Orbán, takes over the Libri group, Hungary’s largest publishing house and bookstore, leading some of its authors to leave and warning of government intent to repress ‘cultural infrastructure’. (Guardian, 23 June 2023)

25 June: Staff at the French flagship newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche go on strike in protest against the nomination of Geoffrey Lejeune, former head of the far-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles, as editor-in-chief. (Reuters, 25 June 2023)

27 June: A new report published by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) finds racism to be ‘entrenched’ in the English game, while sexism and class-based discrimination are also widespread and deep-rooted. (Aljazeera, 27 June 2023) 

1 July: Following pressure from descendants of slaves, King Willem-Alexander formally apologies for the Netherlands’ involvement in slavery at a ceremony to mark the 160th anniversary of its legal abolition. (Aljazeera, 1 July 2023) 

1 July: In France, Paris-Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier is summoned to stand trial on charges of psychological harassment and discrimination. This comes after the release of leaked emails which discuss Galtier’s complaints over the number of Black and Muslim players in the squad during his tenure at Nice. (Guardian, 1 July 2023)

3 July: The Provinssi rock music festival in Seinäjoki, western Finland, rescinds a VIP invitation to Finns Party MP Juha Mäenpää after he violates a non-discrimination agreement by criticising the National Board of Education’s guidelines on gender education. The festival director says he is considering action after receiving threats. (YLE, July 2023)

The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan  with the help of the IRR News team,  Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish and Joseph Maggs. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association and Stopwatch, whose regular updates on asylum, migration, far Right, racial violence, and policing issues are an invaluable source of information. Find these stories and all others since 2014 on our searchable database, the Register of Racism and Resistance.

Feature image: The marche blanche for Nahel on 29 June. Credit: Silanoc, Wikimedia Commons.

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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