Calendar of racism and resistance (3 – 17 September 2019)

Calendar of racism and resistance (3 – 17 September 2019)


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

2 September: An analysis of Home Office figures reveals that between 2016-18 the Home Office refused at least 3,100 asylum claims from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) nationals from countries where consensual same-sex acts are criminalised. (Guardian, 2 September 2019)

3 September: Home secretary Priti Patel formally commissions the Migration Advisory Committee to provide recommendations for a future Australian-style points-based migration system in the UK. (, 3 September 2019)

credit: @lgsmigrants

8 September: Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Campaign Against Arms Trade and Stop the Arms Fair hold a joint day of action on ‘Borders and Migration’ outside the ExCeL centre where the Defence and Security Equipment International (‘DSEI’) arms fair is to be held, to protest against the fair and the political and financial support given by the UK government to the arms trade, which they point out causes refugees. (Pressenza, 4 September 2019)

10 September: The government announces that from September 2020, foreign graduates of British universities will be offered a two-year work visa, reversing a policy restricting their stay to four months post-graduation, imposed in 2012 by then home secretary Theresa May. (Guardian, 10 September 2019)

Borders and internal controls

5 September: Human Rights Watch publishes ‘Subject to Whim: The Treatment of Unaccompanied Migrant Children in the French Hautes-Alpes’ which finds that France continues its practices of flawed age assessment procedures and summary returns of unaccompanied children at the border to Italy. (ECRE Newsletter, 6 September 2019)

6 September: The Hungarian government announces that it is to extend the ‘state of crisis’ over migration until 7 March 2020, citing 7,000 irregular border crossing attempts since the beginning of the year, the ‘critical situation in Serbia’ and the presence of thousands of ‘illegal migrants’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece. (Asylum Information Database, 9 September 2019)

7 September: Privacy International condemns automated border controls at airports as ‘not fit for purpose’ after innocent travellers complain of errors leading to their passports being rejected at eGates. (Guardian, 7 September 2019)

Refugee grave in Calais Cemetary

10 September: The refugee charity Care4Calais warns that an ongoing wave of closures of refugee camps in France will mean more migrants making dangerous journeys across the Channel to the UK, as the Home Office intercepts a record number of 86 people in one day attempting the crossing in small dinghies. (Guardian, 11 September 2019; Evening Standard, 15 September 2019)

10 September: The new Italian government confirms that the Alan Kurdi rescue ship, operated by the German NGO Sea Eye, is barred from landing, in line with a request made by its outgoing interior minister Matteo Salvini.  Of the 13 rescued at the end of August, eight have been disembarked because of deteriorating mental health and suicide attempts, and Malta transfers the remaining five to a naval vessel (although denying landing to the ship)  after Sea Eye agrees to drop its juridical complaint against the government. (Guardian, New York Times, 10 September 2019)

13 September: Research by South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) puts in question Sheffield’s status as the UK’s oldest ‘city of sanctuary’ by revealing soaring arrests of Sheffield residents as suspected ‘illegal entrants’ and council officials’ collaboration with immigration enforcement.(Open Democracy, 13 September 2019)

14 September: The new Italian government gives permission for the disembarkation of the Ocean Viking, a rescue ship operated by SOS Méditerranée and MSF carrying 82 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, marking a break from hardline immigration policies of former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini who had previously barred such ships from Italian ports. (Guardian, 14 September 2019)

Crimes of solidarity

11 September:  Carola Rackete, captain of SeaWatch3, charged with aiding illegal immigration by the Italian government, receives the prestigious ‘Gold Medal of Honour’ from the Catalan parliament for her rescue missions in the Mediterranean. (Euronews, 11 September 2019)

Reception and detention

3 September: The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group launches a new campaign which calls for an end to indefinite immigration detention and raises awareness of the dangers faced by LGBTQ people in detention in the UK. (Gay Times, 3 September)

9 September: 34 NGOs sign an open letter to the Maltese government expressing alarm about the prolonged detention of hundreds of asylum-seekers on medical screening grounds, probably for TB, at the Initial Reception Centre and Safi Barracks where they are held in insanitary conditions, with limited access to open air and a severe shortage of basic material necessities. (Aditus press release, 6 September 2019)

10 September: The charity INQUEST criticises the dismissive culture of healthcare staff in immigration removal centres after the Lincolnshire coroner rules that the death in 2016 of immigration detainee Bai Bai Ahmed Kabia could have been prevented if he had been properly diagnosed and treated. Kabia collapsed at Morton Hall immigration removal centre and died of a brain haemorrhage at Lincoln County Hospital. (Inquest press release, 9 September 2019)

13 September: Detainees at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre stage protests over the death of fellow detainee Oscar Okwurime, who died shortly after receiving a ticket for his deportation flight to Nigeria. Medical Justice, a charity campaigning for health rights of detainees, call for the phasing out of detention, warning that otherwise ‘the deaths and harm will continue’. (Guardian, 13 September 2019; Independent, 14 September 2019)


2 September: Hundreds of British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong demand the right to live in the UK as fears grow of Chinese central government intervention in the escalating political and human rights crisis. (Guardian, 2 September 2019)

3 September: The 3million charity, which supports the estimated 3.2 million EU nationals who need to apply if they wish to remain in the UK after Brexit, express concern that the Home Office is prioritising help for high-profile EU citizens, after TV star Fred Sirieix was given settled status the same day that he tweeted his frustration. (Guardian, 3 September 2019)

9 September: Lawyers say over 1,000 former Malaysian citizens have been left stateless in Britain for more than a decade in what has been branded a ‘Windrush-style’ scandal. Falsely led to believe an obscure British travel document would make them UK citizens, they have been trapped in the UK, unable to work and repeatedly detained in immigration centres. (Independent, 9 September 2019)

15 September: The Liberal Democrats call for ministers’ powers to revoke British citizenship should be restricted, as it is revealed that revocations soared from 4 in 2014 to 104 in 2017. (Guardian, 15 September 2019)


5 September: Home Office figures show that thirty-three far-right extremists were held under anti-terror laws last year, including individuals from National Action. (Guardian, 5 September 2019)

6 September: Norway’s intelligence services (PST) warns of a heightened risk of a far-right terror attack in the coming year, adding that several Norwegian rightwing extremists are openly expressing support for the perpetrators of attacks in New Zealand, the US and the failed attack on a mosque in Oslo in August. (Guardian, 6 September 2019)

7 September: Anti-fascists in Iceland march to oppose the increased neo-nazi presence in Reykjavík where Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish neo-nazis have been active, as well as the Icelandic group Norðurvígi, all linked to the Nordic Resistance Movement. (Iceland Review, 6 September 2019)

7 September: Neo-nazi Nathan Worrell, from Grimsby, is convicted of various offences under anti-terrorist laws including possessing material, including Combat 18 stickers, designed to stir up racial hatred. (Daily Mirror, 7 September 2019)

9 September: Facebook and Instagram block the social media accounts of Italian far-right groups Casapound and Forza Nuova, saying they have violated the platform’s policies against spreading hate. Casapound leader Simone Di Stefano says that his personal account has been shut down, as well as those of other far-right city councillors. (, 9 September 2019)

13 September: Two former Golden Dawn parliamentarians, Yiannis Lagos and Nikos Michos are found guilty of instigating an attack in July 2013 on a community centre which offered Greek language classes for migrants. Although they receive suspended prison sentences, five other Golden Dawn members receive immediate prison sentences for their part in the attack. (Greek Reporter, 13 September 2019)

13 September: Far-right activist and former EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, is released after serving nine weeks of a nine-month prison sentence for serious interference with the administration of justice. (Guardian, 13 September 2019)


4 September: Labour MP for Slough, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, is cheered in the House of Commons when he demands an apology from prime minister Boris Johnson for his ‘derogatory, racist and Islamophobic’ remarks about women in burqas. (Independent, 4 September 2019)

5 September: A Hungarian state-backed demography trends conference opens with an artistic performance portraying hordes of people from the south and east advancing on Europe. Attended by leaders from central and eastern Europe as well as former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, it is addressed by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán who seems to draw on far-right conspiracy theories when he says ‘There are political forces in Europe who want a replacement of population for ideological or other reasons’. (Financial Times, 5 September 2019, Guardian, 6 September 2019)

5 September: The Times claims that the prime minister’s office has been polling culture war issues, such as transgender rights, to see whether they can be weaponised against Labour in northern working-class constituencies. (Pink News, 3 September 2019)

7 September: A member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) is unanimously elected to the post of municipal administrator in the village of Altenstadt-Waldsiedlung, in Hesse, central Germany, prompting questions as to why Christian Democrat and Social Democrat councillors supported the candidate. (Deutsche Welle, 7 September 2019)

10 September: MEPs demand that the European Commission’s incoming president, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) rethink her plan to give the EU’s most senior official on migration and skilled labour the job title ‘Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life’. British Green MEP Molly Scott Cato accuses the Commission of adopting the ‘divisive rhetoric’ of fascists. (Independent, Guardian, 11 September 2019; Guardian, 13 September 2019)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wiki commons

16 September: Sara Khan, head of the government’s Commission for Countering Extremism, calls Boris Johnson’s likening of women in burqas to ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’ demeaning and dehumanising, and says public figures are undermining efforts to combat extremism. (Guardian, 16 September 2019)


3 September: Following a public outcry, the developer at London’s Kings Cross development says that it has abandoned plans for a wider deployment of facial recognition technology across its entire building estate. (Prolific London, 3 September 2019)

4 September: The high court in Cardiff rules that while the South Wales police’ use of automatic facial recognition technology to search for people in crowds interferes with privacy rights, it is lawful. Liberty and a Liberal Democrat councillor will appeal the verdict on grounds of violation of data protection and equality laws. (Guardian, 4 September 2019)

7 September: In a six-point plan to transform children’s welfare, the Children’s Commissioner proposes that neighbourhood police units be attached to schools to help combat the influence of gangs on students. (Guardian, 7 September 2019)

9 September: The Canary reports that there have been 116 arrests of protestors at the DSEI arms fair at ExCel, where police are accused of picking on Kurdish groups for harsher treatment. (The Canary, 9 September 2019, Plan C, 13 September 2019)

16 September: Researchers at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) warn that algorithms used in ‘predictive policing’ may replicate and in some cases amplify race bias inherent in the dataset. (Guardian, 16 September 2019)

18 September: An open letter by Big Brother Watch, signed by politicians, civil liberties and anti-racist campaign groups, barristers and academics, says facial recognition technology is inaccurate, intrusive and infringes privacy rights, and calls for its unregulated use to be halted. (BBC News, 18 September 2019)


5 September: The US defence secretary warns the UK that its refusal to take back ISIS fighters held in Syria and put them on trial at home creates a risk to regional security. (Guardian, 6 September 2019)

13 September: A Manchester coroner rules that bereaved families of the Manchester Arena attack should be excluded from large parts of the inquiry into the attack, as the disclosure of sensitive MI5 and police evidence could endanger national security. (Guardian, 13 September 2019)


12 September: Immigration judge Peter Herbert tells an employment tribunal that race bias is ‘prevalent’ in the legal system, as he becomes the first judge to sue the Ministry of Justice for race discrimination and victimisation. Herbert was disciplined by a senior judge for a 2015 speech suggesting there was racism in the judiciary. (Guardian, 12 September 2019)

16 September: Research by the Resolution Foundation finds a steady rise in abuse of employees’ rights and precarious working conditions over the past decade. Read the report here. (Guardian, 16 September 2019)

16 September: An employment Tribunal finds that the army created a ‘degrading, humiliating and offensive’ environment for two former paratroopers and had failed to prevent them being subjected to racial harassment. (Guardian, 16 September 2019)


9 September: Maternity Action, backed by the Royal College of Midwives, call on the NHS to end charges for pregnant women who are refugees, migrants or visiting from overseas, citing concerns that undocumented migrant women may be deterred from accessing vital care. (Guardian, 9 September 2019)

10 September: The Asian People’s Disability Alliance publishes Humare Avaaz, research into barriers to independence for disabled Asian women which criticises professional assumptions within social care that ethnic minority communities choose not to take up welfare services. (Guardian, 10 September 2019)


12 September: Government statistics show that the number of households living in temporary accommodation in England is at its highest level for more than a decade, with the number of households considered newly homeless rising by more than 3,000 in three months. Housing charities say the statistics underestimate the extent of homelessness. (Guardian, 12 September 2019)

15 September: An Observer analysis reveals that one in four of the 260,000 households facing homelessness in 2018 were in work, revealing the extent of in-work poverty. (Observer, 15 September 2019)


4 September: Following an application by the Metropolitan police, a judge rules that journalists who interviewed Shamima Begum, who ran away from home to joint Islamic State in 2015, will not be forced to hand over their notes to counter-terrorism investigators, accepting the legal argument that such a move would strip journalists of their neutrality and place them at risk by making them de facto state agents. (Guardian, 4 September 2019)

13 September: Historians call the government ‘tone deaf’ and ‘historically illiterate’ for using images of slave ships to promote the UK’s maritime sector in an advertising tweet. (Guardian, 13 September 2019)

15 September: A Muslim online lifestyle platform targeting British teenagers, SuperSisters, set up in 2015 by a company describing itself as a ‘not-for-profit community group’, is revealed as being covertly funded by the Home Office’s counter-extremism programme. (Observer, 15 September 2019)

16 September: Public figures including Gary Lineker and Eddie Izzard urge well-known people not to engage with online trolls so as to stop the spread of toxic discourse on social media. Their advice forms part of the launch of a guide ‘Don’t’ Feed the Trolls’ from the new Centre for Countering Digital Hate in London. The public figures believe that responding to trolls spreads hate by amplifying and legitimising ideas. (Guardian, 16 September 2019)


6 September: Ofsted says more than 10,000 children vanished from school registers during GCSE courses, suggesting that schools may still be ‘off-rolling’ pupils to improve their exam league table position. (Guardian, 6 September 2019)

8 September: KISA (Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism) in Cyprus issue a statement condemning the actions of the headmaster of the Apostolos Varnavas lyceum who  expelled a refugee pupil from a Syrian background for wearing a headscarf to school and allegedly justified himself on the grounds, ‘we don’t want Taliban in our schools’. (KISA Newsletter, 8 September 2019)

12 September: Birkbeck School of Law appoints Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish writer, journalist and refugee currently detained on Manus Island by the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments, as a Visiting Professor. (Birkbeck News, 12 September 2019; Financial Times, 14 September 2019)


4 September: After former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, now playing for Internazionale Milan, is subjected to monkey chants by Cagliari fans – the latest in a series of players including Moise Kean, Blaise Matuidi and Sulley Muntari to receive this treatment –fans claim in a Facebook post addressed to him that the abuse is not racist but a form of respect.  (Guardian, 4 September 2019)

4 September: Twitter says it has taken action over more than 700 cases of football related racist abuse following a meeting with Kick It Out, who are also holding talks with the UK  footballing policing unit and the CPS, and inviting the FA, the Premier League and the English Football League to a work on a collective action plan to tackle football-related online racist abuse. (Guardian, 4 September 2019)

12 September: Stevenage FC dismisses claims that its caretaker manager Mark Sampson used racist language about a player, as the Football Association says it will investigate. Sampson was cleared of allegations of discrimination in 2017, although the FA apologised to the players for his ‘unacceptable’ and ‘ill-judged attempts at humour.’ (BBC Sport, 12 September 2019)

13 September: Two Heart of Midlothian Football Club supporters are issued indefinite bans for racially abusing players during the Scottish Premiership clash with Hamilton at the end of August (Edinburgh News, 13 September 2019)

16 September: Football pundit Luciano Passirani is sacked from Italian TV channel Telelombardia following racist comments made on-air regarding Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, a former Manchester United player. (Sky News, 16 September 2019)

16 September: London Broncos Rugby League player James Cunningham is charged with racial abuse following an allegation by Hull Rovers, which is referred to a disciplinary panel after an initial Rugby Football League investigation. (BBC Sport, 16 September 2019)

17 September: Twelve leaders of Juventus ‘ultras’ are arrested for extortion after allegedly threatening to sing racist chants during matches unless they were given blocks of reduced-price tickets that they could sell on. (The Local, 16 September 2019)

18 September: A sports judge for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) says there is not enough evidence to take action against Cagliari, whose fans subjected Romelo Lukako to monkey chants as he took a penalty on 1 September. It is the third time in two years Cagliari has been investigated for racist abuse but no action has been taken. (BBC News, 18 September 2019)


3 September: According to police, Cheshire has seen a rise in hate crimes against Muslims after the Brexit vote with 30 Islamophobic offences reported in 2016 and 67 in 2017, compared to 5 in 2014. Local MP Chris Matheson attributed the rise to pro-Brexit campaigning ‘based on immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric’ and the opening up of old intolerances encouraged by the racism of Donald Trump. (Chester Standard, 3 September 2019)

9 September: Over 40 percent of Bolton’s African community has been verbally abused in the last year, according to a new survey on hate crime. Of 108 people surveyed, 26 percent have been harassed and 20 per cent have had their property damaged. The study, carried out by Bolton’s African Community Association, aided by the Bolton Be Safe Partnership, also found that 42 percent said they were unlikely to report the crimes to the police or other agencies. (Bolton News, 9 September 2019)

10 September: Far-right extremist Vincent Fuller is jailed for 18 years and 9 months for a violent racist rampage in Stanwell on 16 March, the day after the Christchurch mosque attack. Shouting ‘All Muslims should die, white supremacists rule’, he attacked cars with a baseball bat and stabbed a teenager, telling him: ‘You’re going to die’. (Independent, 10 September 2019

12 September: A 60-year-old Norwegian man is found guilty of a virulent racist hate campaign which included issuing online death threats against the survivors of Breivik’s massacre on Utøya island. (News In, 12 September 2019)

16 September: Tell Mama launches its 2018 annual report on anti-Muslim hate incidents in the UK, finding two significant spikes – after ‘Punish a Muslim’ day letters were circulated, and after Boris Johnson’s article calling niqab wearing Muslims ‘letter-boxes’. (Tell Mama press release, 16 September 2019)


This calendar was compiled by the IRR News team with the help of Laura Wormington and Graeme Atkinson.

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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