Calendar of Racism and Resistance (5 December – 19 December 2023)

Calendar of Racism and Resistance (5 December – 19 December 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 

7 December: Following the signing of the new agreement with Rwanda, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is introduced in the House of Commons, creating a conclusive presumption that Rwanda is safe for refugees. (IPPR, 11 December 2023)

8 December: A report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee accuses the government of failing to focus on human trafficking and prioritising curbing irregular migration with unjustified claims that migrants ‘abuse the system’. (Independent, 8 December 2023)

 11 December: The Home Office says it has not confirmed how the new minimum income requirement of £38,700 will apply to renewals of spouse or family visas, nor how the new minimum salary for foreign skilled workers will apply to visa renewals in spring 2024. (Electronic Immigration Network, 11 December 2023)

11 December: Together With Refugees launches a campaign to scrap the Rwanda scheme and introduce a ‘fair new plan for refugees’ with a letter signed by a number of high profile figures including Gary Lineker and the former leader of the British Army, Richard Dannatt. (Guardian, 11 December 2023)

15 December: British-Palestinian families call on foreign secretary David Cameron to launch a visa scheme for relatives trapped in Gaza, similar to the Ukraine family scheme. A parliamentary petition in support gains over 25,000 signatures. Sign the petition here. (BBC News, 15 December 2023)
Borders and internal controls 

8 December: A Guardian investigation reveals over 1,000 unmarked graves of migrants along the EU’s migration routes. (Guardian, 8 December 2023)

13 December: Muhammad Rabbani, director of CAGE International, accuses France of placing him on a European no-entry list after he is detained by Swiss border officials on his way to address a meeting of the Baku Institute at the UN’s office in Geneva. (Middle East Eye, 13 December 2023)

14 December: Speaking at a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State, foreign secretary David Cameron announces that extremists responsible for settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank will be banned from entering Britain. (Reuters, 14 December 2023)

14 December: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International deplore the lack of investigation by Greek authorities into the circumstances surrounding the June shipwreck off the Greek coast in which over 500 migrants crossing from Libya were killed. (Guardian, 14 December 2023)

18 December: The Transnational Institute publishes Repackaging Imperialism: the EU-IOM border regime in the Balkans, revealing how the EU has funded the International Organization for Migration to develop a transnational security apparatus including remilitarisation of borders in a region recovering from war and bolstering police forces which engage in illegal and violent pushbacks. (Transnational Institute, 18 December 2023)

Reception and detention 

6 December: The High Court gives the Home Office the go-ahead to use RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and the Wethersfield airfield in Braintree for mass asylum accommodation. (Guardian, 6 December 2023)

 7 December: A judicial review grants 16 asylum seekers the right to an inquiry into the ‘deplorable conditions and mistreatment’ at Manston detention centre in late 2022, which caused one woman to suffer a miscarriage. (Independent, 7 December 2023)

8 December: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan calls for an immediate halt to evictions from asylum accommodation and for financial resources to provide accommodation and support. (BBC, 8 December 2023)

 11 December: Home Office documents inviting commercial partners to run Manston and Dover immigration detention sites offer six-year contracts with possible extension to 2034, indicating that the facilities may become permanent processing centres. (Kent Online, 11 December 2023)

12 December: 27-year old Leonard Farruku, an Albanian asylum seeker housed on board the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset, is found dead, believed to have killed himself. Further concerns over cramped, unsafe and isolated conditions are raised, with calls for immediate closure of the barge. (Guardian, 12 December 2023; Guardian, 18 December 2023)

12 December: The death is reported of Mikhail, a 24-year-old LGBTQ+ asylum seeker from Russia who was found dead outside an asylum centre in Echt, the Netherlands, in late November. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service described his death as a ‘suicide outside the camp’. (Global Voices, 12 December 2023)

14 December: Afghan refugees who are to be flown imminently from Pakistan to the UK receive a letter telling them they must find legal advice and enter into ‘an excluded license agreement’ within seven days of their arrival or face homelessness. (Independent, 14 December 2023)

15 December: Wakefield Coroner’s Court rules that asylum seeker Irakli Kapanadze, a father of two from Georgia, who died in September in the grounds of the Cedar Court hotel where he was living, took his own life. (BBC, 15 December 2023)

15 December: A report by the Helen Bamber Foundation and Humans for Rights Network, Ghettoised and traumatised, claims that hunger strikes, self-harm and suicide attempts have taken place at the Wethersfield asylum camp, with men suffering worsening mental health and PTSD symptoms. (inews, 15 December 2023)


7 December: France’s top administrative court rebukes the interior minister and orders the return of an Uzbek national deported on suspicion of ties with jihadist movements in violation of an ECHR provisional ruling that he was at risk of torture. (Le Monde, 13 December 2023)

16 December: A 20-year-old man from Iraq is deported from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, after the government receives a tip that he was planning a terrorist attack on a Christmas market. It’s unclear whether there was supporting evidence. (Deutsche Welle, 16 December 2023)


6 December: A decree issued by the German state of Saxony-Anhalt instructs municipalities that all naturalised citizens must confirm in writing that they recognise Israel’s right to exist and says applicants will be monitored for antisemitic attitudes. The state interior minister urges the 15 other states to follow suit. (Deutsche Welle, 6 November 2023)

11 December: After the Foreigners Office instructs dozens of municipalities to strip children born in the countryto Palestinian parents of their Belgian nationality, a government spokesperson claims that this is unrelated to the conflict in Gaza but concerns ‘potential abuses’ of the family reunification system. (Brussels Times, 11 December 2023)

12 December: Britain agrees to repatriate a woman and five children, all British and understood to be unrelated, from prison camps in Syria. The woman is only the second adult to be repatriated since 2019. (Guardian, 12 December 2023)


5 December: The Labour party says it will not reverse measures to ban migrant care workers bringing dependants to the UK and generally supports the government’s changes to dependants rules. (inews, 5 December 2023)

 6 December: Immigration minister Robert Jenrick resigns, saying the Safety of Rwanda Bill ‘does not go far enough’. The prime minister splits the role into two, appointing Michael Tomlinson minister for ‘illegal’ migration and Tom Pursglove minister for ‘legal’ migration. (BBC, 6 December 2023)

6 December: The Rural Independent Group introduces a parliamentary motion stating that Ireland should ‘stop those who come to take advantage of our generosity as asylum tourists’. (RTE, 6 December 2023)

 7 December: After highly publicised burnings of the Quran in public places, the Danish parliament passes a law that forbids publicly burning, tearing or defiling holy texts, with penalties including fines and up to two years in prison. (Al Jazeera, 7 December 2023)

10 December: The Belgian justice minister tells 4,000 demonstrators at a Brussels rally against antisemitism that every antisemitic incident will be properly investigated. (Brussels Times, 10 December 2023)

12 December: During the second reading of the Safety of Rwanda bill, Conservative MP for Doncaster Nick Fletcher says that immigration is turning parts of the UK into ‘ghettos’ where no-one speaks English, and that people ‘don’t expect to be called racist or xenophobic for saying “we liked it as it was.”’ (Independent, 13 December 2023)

12 December: In Germany, the Christian Democrats launch a draft manifesto that promises to end ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and limit ‘humanitarian migration to a level that does not overburden Germany’s integration capacity’, adding that Muslims only belong in Germany if they ‘share our values’. (Deutsche Welle, 12 December 2023)

12 December: Grzegorz Braun, a far-right Confederation Party MP, sprays a lit Hanukkah menorah in the Polish parliament with a fire extinguisher, disrupting a vote of confidence in the new government under Donald Tusk. (Guardian, 12 December 2023)

16 December: At a festival in Rome organised by Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, Rishi Sunak says that migration will ‘overwhelm’ Europe and that he and Meloni, with whom he is forging a close relationship, would do ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘stop the boats’. (Guardian, 16 December 2023)

17 December: In a first for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), its candidate, Tim Lochner, wins a city mayorship in Pirna, Saxony, with 38.5% of the second-round vote. (Deutsche Welle, 17 December 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.

9 December: The extreme-right group Aufbruch Gera gathers over a thousand people in Gera, Thuringia, eastern Germany to protest plans to build housing for refugees. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) also organises a 70-vehicle convoy through the city. (InfoMigrants, 11 December 2023)

11 December: German prosecutors file terrorism charges against 27 people in connection with an alleged far-right plot to topple the government. Prosecutors say the accused – linked to Reich Citizens and QAnon ideology – believe in a ‘conglomerate of conspiracy myths’ and that Germany is ruled by a ‘deep state’. (Guardian, 12 December 2023)

12 December: In Spain, following searches on eight properties that uncovered ten firearms and items used to make explosives, the Civil Guard arrest 11 leading members of a neo-Nazi paramilitary group who sought to incite hatred and ‘end the established regime’. (ABC Spain, 12 December 2023)

 13 December: The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism publishes ‘Far-right hate and extremist groups, Germany’, profiling organisations including Alternative for Germany (AfD), the party’s youth wing Die Rechte, and other anti-Muslim, antisemitic, anti-LGBTQ+ and neo-Nazi parties. (GRAHE, 14 December 2023)

13 December: In Poland, president Andrzej Duda pardons Marika Matuszak, a member of the far-right Front Oczyszczenia Narodowego, who was jailed after the group violently attempted to steal a rainbow flag during a LGBT march in 2020. (Notes From Poland, 13 December 2023)


 8 December: The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture welcomes partial reforms to the Imprisonment for Public Protection sentencing system but warns that a large cohort of prisoners still remains subject to indefinite detention, which is incompatible with the rule of law. (OHCR, 8 December 2023)

8 December: A French juvenile court hands suspended sentences to six teenagers for their role in the 2020 killing of teacher Samuel Paty. The teenagers, found guilty of identifying the teacher to the attacker, said they did not know that he would be killed. (Le Monde, 8 December 2023)

 11 December: Following negotiations with the European parliament, the EU adopts new rules governing police and national security bodies’ use of real-time biometric data driven by artificial intelligence, which will be banned, in most circumstances, for use without judicial authorisation. (Guardian, 11 December 2023)

11 December: In Brussels, Belgium, hundreds of police officers protest against the conviction of three colleagues for ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unjustified’ involvement in a 2017 fatal car crash that killed motorcyclist Ouassim Toumi and passenger Sabrina El Bakkali. (Brussels Times, 11 December 2023)

 13 December: An academic study commissioned by the College of Policing finds the biggest reason for racial disparity in taser use is not the attitudes of individual police officers, but that structural and institutional racism make police four times more likely to use an electrical weapon against Black people. (Guardian, 13 December 2023)

15 December: The official inspectorate refuses to back police forces’ use of stop and search powers conducted ‘without suspicion’, finding that chiefs cannot explain why Black people are 12 times more likely to be targeted. Stopwatch responds by noting that while policing bodies know that Section 60 is racist, ‘they simply do not care’. (Guardian, 15 December 2023; Stopwatch, 15 December 2023)

 17 December: A Met police ‘Prevent case management’ document demonstrates that personal details of thousands of individuals referred to the Prevent programme have been secretly, and possibly unlawfully, shared with airports, government departments (immigration, the Home Office and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office) and the Acro Criminal Records Office. (Observer, 17 December 2023)


For more information on national security-linked deportations, see deportation section of ASYLUM | MIGRATION | BORDERS | CITIZENSHIP

5 December: The EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner announces an extra €30 million in security funding, aimed largely at protecting places of worship, on the premise that member states face a ‘huge risk of terrorist attacks’ over the ‘holiday season’ due to the war in Gaza. (Deutsche Welle, 5 December 2023)

14 December: In the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, eight people are arrested on suspicion of being members of Hamas, planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe and storing weapons in Berlin for that purpose. (Deutsche Welle, 14 December 2023)


6 December: The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine writes to all UK vice chancellors asking them to speak out against a ‘primitive assault on higher education in Gaza’, adding that ‘the silence of Britain’s academic establishment’ in the face of this ‘carnage and wanton destruction’ is shocking. (BRICUP, 6 December 2023)

9 December: The University of Bristol and University of West of England withdraw the Emeritus and Honorary status of retired employee Professor Harriet Bradley after she tweets that someone should ‘blow up’ the Jewish Labour Conference. Avon & Somerset police investigate. (BBC, 9 December 2023)

10 December: A student is referred by his college to Prevent after sending an email of absence explaining why he was taking part in the London School Strike for Palestine. (Twitter, 10 December 2023)

13 December: The higher education minister says that the government’s review of the post-study work visa, which allows overseas graduates to stay and work for two years, will look at whether the system is being abused and if graduates are getting good jobs. (THE, 13 December 2023)

13 December: After the University of Birmingham cancels a staff-student listening session on the war in Gaza, the university’s UCU branch warns that the cancellation will have ‘a pernicious “chilling effect” on free speech’. (Birmingham UCU, 13 December 2023)

14 December: Launching a consultation on proposals for a free speech complaints system, Office of Students director Arif Ahmed sidesteps questions on academic freedom in relation to Palestine, adding that ‘speech that incites violence, speech that amounts to illegal harassment, speech that stirs up racial hatred will not be protected under any circumstances’. (THE, 14 December 2023)

15 December: SOAS, University of London releases a statement mourning the loss of Dr Refaat Alareer, a former student killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza and noting the ‘near total destruction of the higher educational sector in the Gaza Strip’. UCL, where Alareer also studied, is criticised for failing to acknowledge his death. (SOAS, 15 December; BBC News, 14 December 2023)

16 December: Analysis by the Observer reveals that at some of England’s strictest academies’ suspension rates are 30 times the national average, which experts warn can affect the country’s most vulnerable children. (Observer, 16 December 2023)

17 December: A coalition of staff at the University of Edinburgh publishes a follow-up statement on the right to free speech at the university, also urging the institution to end financial investment and research links with weapons companies active in Israel, and acknowledging the role of its former chancellor Sir Arthur Balfour. (BRICUP, 17 December 2023)


7 December: Research by the Centre for London finds that over 300,000 London households are on the waiting list for social housing; rough sleeping has increased by 50% in the last decade; and a quarter of Londoners are left in poverty after paying their housing costs. (Centre for London, 7 December 2023)

10 December: Government data reveals that in some areas of London, one in ten children and teenagers are effectively homeless and living in bleak, often cold, mouldy and cramped temporary accommodation. (Observer, 10 December 2023)

11 December: Researchers at Queens University Belfast find that more than a million people, mostly ethnic minorities, are living in pockets of poverty in wealthy areas of Aylesbury, London, Oxford and Manchester where gentrification masks the reality of cramped housing and ill health. (Guardian, 11 December 2023)


6 December: In Dublin, Ireland, the National Traveller Mental Health Network protests outside Leinster House, calling on the government to address both the mental health crisis and the dire living conditions that Travellers face. (The Journal, 6 December 2023)


 16 December: It is revealed that in the Champagne region of France, a Polish man and three French seasonal grape pickers have recently died from cardiac arrests due to working and living conditions. Prosecutors consider pursuing ‘human trafficking’ charges relating to the working conditions and renumeration of 100 foreign and undocumented grape pickers from West Africa and Eastern Europe. (Le Monde, 16 December 2023)

 19 December: The Care Quality Commission tells a parliamentary committee that modern slavery has become a feature of the care sector since Brexit, with visa rules trapping workers in exploitation. (Guardian, 19 December 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. 

7 December: The death of poet Benjamin Zephaniah is widely mourned, with Inquest, the National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tweeting about his integrity and political engagement. (Guardian, 7 December 2023)

Benjamin Zephaniah at the Hay Festival. Credit: Kathy DeWitt, Alamy

 7 December: In Germany, Oyoun, a Jewish cultural centre, files legal action against the Berlin Senate for cutting its funding due to the organisation’s ‘hidden antisemitism’—an accusation Oyoun finds arbitrary, intimidating and a threat to artistic and free expression. (Index on Censorship, 8 December 2023)

8 December: The Jewish Chronicle, which claims that ‘thousands of children’ are ‘bunking off school’ to attend ‘anti-Israel’ protests, infiltrates a School Strike for Palestine WhatsApp group and claims that one person has been reported to the police for glorifying terrorism as a result of its investigation. (Jewish Chronicle, 8 December 2023)

8 December: An independent report into historical discrimination within Essex County Cricket Club finds that racist abuse was common within the dressing room culture and normalised as ‘banter’, detailing how players of Bangladeshi heritage were repeatedly referred to as ‘terrorists’, as well as several incidents in which the N-word was used. (Guardian, 8 December 2023)

9 December: Jamie Arnold is sentenced to six months in prison after a jury finds him guilty of racially abusing pundit Rio Ferdinand during a match at Wolverhampton’s Molineux stadium in 2021 – the harshest sentence ever given to a football fan for racist abuse, including a seven-year banning order from all matches in the UK and abroad. (Sky Sports, 9 December 2023)

11 December: After #BoycottZara trends on social media, the fashion company removes an advertising campaign featuring mannequins with missing limbs and statues wrapped in a white shroud. Owner Inditex says it’s just a normal part of refreshing content. (Al Jazeera, 11 December 2023)

13 December: In a podcast discussion headlined ‘Free Palestine is the new Heil Hitler’ for Germany’s Die Welt, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer publishing house, and the Berlin-based rap artist Ben Salomo, conclude that Muslims rather than the far Right are the biggest threat to Jewish life in the country today. (Welt, 13 December 2023, Perspektive Online, 16 December 2023)

13 December: In a Commons debate, it emerges that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has written to the Museum of London to protest ‘woke archaeology’ in a study of 14th century plague victims’ ethnicity, which she believes could damage trust in today’s health service. (Guardian, 13 December 2023)

13 December: The International Cricket Council bans Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja from wearing shoes with the messages ‘freedom is a human right’ and ‘all lives are equal’ written in the colours of the Palestinian flag after deeming the statement to be ‘political’. (BBC News, 13 December 2023)

14 December: An internal investigation is launched after the Royal Society of Arts hosts a trade event for Israel attended by the Israeli Ambassador and UK deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden. RSA staff join demonstrations outside the building, with one person arrested for protesting inside the building. Read a statement from the RSA Union here. (Middle East Eye, 14 December 2023) 

14 December: Al Jazeera screens ‘Palestine: banned in Berlin’, a documentary that details the growing suppression by police of Germany’s Palestinian diaspora and other pro-Palestinian voices. (Al Jazeera, 14 December 2023)

14 December: In Germany, the Green party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation, with the backing of the Bremen Senate, postpones an award ceremony to honour Masha Gessen, the recipient of the Hannah Arendt prize for political thought, after the Jewish author writes an essay in the New Yorker comparing Gaza to a Nazi-era Jewish ghetto. (Guardian, 14 December 2023)

14 December: Independent press regulator Impress urges journalists to exercise caution on claims made by ‘opaque think tanks’, after Open Democracy research rates think-tanks by transparency and ‘dark money’ influence. The Institute for Economic Affairs, Migration Watch, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Taxpayers’ Alliance all receive poor ratings. (Open Democracy, 14 December 2023)

18 December: The European Commission announces that the social media platform X is to be investigated under its new Digital Services Act for breaching its guidelines to counter hate speech and fake news in ‘connection with Hamas’s attack on Israel’. (Guardian, 18 December 2023)


For details of court judgements on racially motivated and other hate crimes, see also POLICING | PRISONS | CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. For information on attacks on asylum accommodation in Ireland see the reception and detention section of ASYLUM | MIGRATION | BORDERS | CITIZENSHIP.

7 December: The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre are evacuated after a bomb threat. (My London, 7 December 2023)

9 December: Police launch an investigation after a threatening letter promising ‘action’ is sent to Apex faith primary school, Ilford, east London. Describing the school staff as ‘pedophiles’, the sender relishes the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza and signs off ‘your terrorist friend’. (Mirror, 9 December 2023)

15 December: In Islington, north London, a Menorah is vandalised days after the festival of Hanukkah. Police treat the case as an antisemitic hate crime. MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn attend a ceremony to relight it. (Islington Tribune, 15 December 2023; Jewish Chronicle, 17 December 2023)

 16 December: Police issue CCTV footage of a man they want to speak to following an incident at Stratford station, east London, during which a man on his way back from a pro-Palestine protest was repeatedly punched in a racially-aggravated assault. (Standard, 16 December 2023)

18 December: Shortly after protesters blockaded the entrance of Ross Lake House Hotel in Rosscahill, Co Galway, Ireland, which was set to accommodate 70 asylum seekers, a fire breaks out at the hotel. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says ‘there is no justification for violence, arson or vandalism in our Republic. Ever.’ Other properties earmarked for asylum seekers across the country also suffer criminal damage. (RTE, 18 December 2023)

The calendar was compiled by Sophie Chauhan with the help of Graeme Atkinson, Margaret McAdam, Louis Ordish and Anne-Ysore Onana-Ateba. Thanks also to ECRE, the Never Again Association and Stopwatch, whose regular updates on asylum, migration, far Right, racial violence, employment 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: Campaigners from Together with Refugees standing on top of a London Bus saying ‘Scrap the cruel Rwanda Plan’. Credit: Christopher Gunson, Together with Refugees

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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