Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 May 2021)

Calendar of Racism and Resistance (6 – 20 May 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

13 May: The Home Office is asked to extend the consultation period on its planned immigration reforms, which ran concurrently with the devolved nations’ parliamentary elections, leaving those nations unable to offer their opinions. (The National, 13 May 2021)

14 May: In France, interior minister Gérald Darmanin announces that 147 ‘radicalised’ migrants have been stripped of their refugee status, raising concerns over the impartiality of Ofpra (the body responsible for granting refugee status). (InfoMigrants, 14 May 2021) 

Borders and internal controls

10 May: The home secretary admits she has secured neither any new ‘safe legal routes’ for those from conflict zones to reach the UK nor any agreement with an EU country to take back asylum seekers. (Independent, 10 May 2021)

12 May: A report by the Protecting Rights at Borders initiative details 2,162 cases of ‘pushbacks’ at borders in Italy, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Hungary. (Guardian, 12 May 2021)

13 May: Some Europeans arriving in the UK as visitors or for job interviews report being sent to immigration detention centres or held in airport detention rooms pending expulsion. (Guardian, 13 May 2021)

14 May: In Italy a judge dismisses the case of kidnap against former interior minister Matteo Salvini for his refusal to let migrants and refugees disembark from a coast guard ship in 2019. (Al Jazeera, 14 May 2021)  

17 May: Spain returns around half of the over 6,000 people who arrived at its enclave in Cueta from Morocco, with the territory’s president describing it as an ‘invasion’ and Madrid sending troops and an extra 200 police officers. (Al Jazeera, 17 May 2021) 

Reception and detention

5 May: In France, human rights groups criticise a Conseil d’Etat ruling that allows migrants to be detained outside any legal framework and without rights at French-Italian border police stations. (Statewatch, 5 May 2021) 

6 May: A high court judge criticises the home secretary after an admission that the Home Office could have acted unlawfully in changing asylum accommodation policy during the pandemic. (Guardian, 6 May 2021)

7 May: Authorities in Chios, Greece, confirm that the body of a 28-year-old Somali refugee was found in a tent in the Vial hilltop holding centre after asylum seekers reported seeing rodents swarming there. (Guardian, 7 May 2021)

9 May: In Chios, Greece, a 51-year-old Iranian asylum seeker is found dead in his tent in the Vial holding centre, with local media attributing the death to underlying health conditions. (Keep Talking Greece, 9 May 2021)

12 May: More than 200 local leaders speak out against the creation of an immigration detention centre for women in County Durham. (Northern Echo, 12 May 2021) 

13 May: After an immigration raid, local residents and community organisations claim a resounding victory in Glasgow, with around 200 people taking to the streets, surrounding an immigration van and eventually securing the release of two men detained during Eid al-Fitr. (Guardian 13 May 2021; Detention Action, 14 May 2021)   

The two men detained in Glasgow leaving the immigration enforcement van.
The two men detained in Glasgow leaving the immigration van. Credit: Andrew Learmonth, Twitter.

17 May: An Italian/Brazilian dual national reports being handcuffed and left in a van overnight at Luton airport, before being taken to a detention centre where she was denied access to her phone and medication, and remained for 7 days before being sent back to Italy. (Guardian, 17 May 2021)

Criminalising solidarity

13 May: An Iranian man who steered a small boat in the English Channel is acquitted of assisting illegal entry after the court ruled that there was no intention to enter the UK illegally, only to be intercepted, rescued and to claim asylum. (Free Movement, 17 May 2021)

13 May: In Greece, 27-year-old Mohamad H, who in December 2020 attempted to steer a boat to safety in the Aegean, stands trial in Mytilene, Lesbos, charged with endangering the lives of his fellow passengers and causing the death of two. (Borderline Europe, 14 May 2021) 


18 May: A number of long-term British citizens report that they have received letters from the Home Office wrongly alleging that they risk losing the right to work, to benefits and to free healthcare unless they apply for UK immigration status in the next 6 weeks. (Guardian, 18 May 2021)


9 May: Far-right and anti-immigration parties have a disastrous showing in local elections around the UK, with the anti-Islam For Britain getting fewer than 50 votes in 25 of 47 council wards, former deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, losing her deposit after standing as an independent and polling just 46 votes in Glasgow Southside, and UKIP wiped out in parliamentary elections in Wales. (Guardian, 9 May 2021)

11 May: In the run-up to elections in the Czech Republic and a debate around ‘western progressivism’ and ‘political correctness’, the Right introduces legislation aimed at criminalising social media operators which censor ‘public interest’ content. (Euronews, 11 May 2021) 

12 May: In France, after Marine Le Pen’s party tweets ‘Is this how you fight separatism?’ President Macron’s ruling party bars Muslim candidate Sara Zemmahi from running in a local election because she was photographed in a hijab for a campaign flyer. (Al Jazeera; Euronews, 12 May 2021)

14 May: The Austrian government flies the Israeli flag on the chancellery and foreign ministry buildings, with the Chancellor saying that ‘nothing justifies’ Hamas and other terrorist groups firing rockets from Gaza at Israel. Slovenia follows with similar measures. (AFP, 14 May 2021) 

15 May: Netherlands prime minister Mark Rutte is criticised by some parliamentarians for Twitter comments supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, which they say were one-sided and made no mention of Palestinian rights. (NL Times, 15 May 2021)

17 May: Conservative MP Michael Fabricant deletes a much-criticised tweet in which he described pro-Palestinian campaigners as ‘primitives…trying to bring to London what they do in the Middle East’. (Guardian, 16 May 2021)


6 May: In Poland, a distributor of antisemitic materials, 3DOM Publishing House, brings a case of unlawful infringement of personal rights against the anti-racist Never Again Association, which had successfully campaigned against its materials being available on an e-commerce platform. (Never Again Association, 10 May 2021) 

7 May: In France, six members of an unnamed ‘ultra-right’ group are arrested on suspicion of terrorist association and planning violent acts in Doubs and Bas-Rhin. (Le Monde, 7 May 2021) 

11 May: A group of anonymous serving French soldiers publish an open letter to president Macron on the website Valeurs Actuelles warning that ‘civil war’ is brewing over ‘concessions’ to ‘Islamicism’, an intervention welcomed by Marine Le Pen. (Al Jazeera, 11 May 2021)

15 May: In Greece, the former Golden Dawn MP Ioannis Lagos, extradited from Belgium, is sent to prison to serve a 13-year term. (New York Times, May 2021)

17 May: Neo-Nazi Tobias Powell, a member of National Action, who had admitted four counts of using threatening, abusive and insulting words and behaviour intending to incite racial hatred, is sentenced to three years imprisonment at Portsmouth Crown Court. (The Argus, 17 May 2021)


5 May: The Independent Office for Police Conduct finds that a driver who was handcuffed and faced with a Taser during a stop and search in May 2020, was racially profiled by a Metropolitan police officer. (BBC News, 5 May 2021)

10 May: Three Portuguese border police officers are convicted of ‘offences against physical integrity aggravated by the fact of having caused death’ and sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison for the March 2020 killing of Ukrainian visitor Ihor Homeniuk, whose ribs were broken when beaten with batons, and who died by asphyxiation in the temporary reception centre at Lisbon airport. (Euronews, 10 May 2021) 

10 May: The inquest opens into the death of Winston Augustine, a black man who died in HMP Wormwood Scrubs in 2018. During his 48 hours in segregation, staff did not open the cell door, give him food or all of his medication, and there are questions around whether required hourly checks were completed. (INQUEST, 7 May 2021)

10 May: The inquest opens into the death of Adam Stanmore, a man of mixed heritage who was Tasered and restrained by Thames Valley police in 2019 and later took his own life. (INQUEST, 7 May 2021)

18 May: A local MP accuses the Metropolitan police of racial profiling after they tweeted that alongside immigration enforcement, they had stopped 48 fast food delivery riders in 90 minutes in Tooting, South London. (South London Press, 19 May 2021)

Right to protest
A large crowd at a pro-Palestine march in London on 15 May 2021.
A pro-Palestine march in London on 15 May 2021. Credit: Socialist Appeal, Flickr.

12 May: In France the Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine condemns the arrest of Bertrand Heilbronn, the 71-year-old president of the Association France-Palestine Solidarité, after he attended a high profile meeting at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The officers, who also escorted the delegation to the meeting, arrested Heilbronn as he left, on the grounds that he had attended a prohibited rally. (AURDIP, 12 May 2021)

13 May: As largely peaceful pro-Palestine demonstrations take place in many German cities, the Federation of German Detectives (BDK) calls for more surveillance of protesters and tougher penalties against anyone using antisemitic slogans or denying Israel’s right to exist. (Deutsche Welle, 13 May; Deutsche Welle, 17 May 2021)

13 May: In France the interior minister calls on the police to ban protests in Paris linked to ‘recent tensions in the Middle East’ and instructs prefects to be ‘particularly vigilant and firm’, stepping up security for the Jewish community. (Al Jazeera, 13 May 2021) 

15 May: In France, at a pro-Palestine march, banned because authorities alleged fears of possible antisemitic attacks, citing events in 2014, Parisian police fire tear gas and use water cannon against the over 3,000 protestors who had decided to march, injuring 44. (France24, 15 May 2021) 

15 May: Police make three arrests at a pro-Palestine protest in Copenhagen, Denmark, during which demonstrators and police clashed, with rocks reportedly thrown at police and the Israeli Embassy. (The Local, 15 May 2021)

15/16 May: In Austria, police ban entry to the district in Vienna hosting the Israeli embassy, and the ruling conservative Austrian’s People’s Party expels candidate Resul Yigit after he posted a Palestine flag and the words ‘Free Palestine’ on social media. (Urdupoint, 15 May;, 16 May 2021)

17 May: In the Netherlands, pro-Palestine demonstrations take place in Amsterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven and other cities, though in Utrecht 100 people are arrested under coronavirus regulations. (Dutch News, 17 May 2021)


7 May: The Transport Salaried Staff Association welcomes a decision by a senior coroner to open an inquest into what may have been the ‘unnatural’ death of rail worker Belly Mujinga, who died of Covid after allegedly being coughed at and spat on at London’s Victoria Station. (Guardian, 7 May 2021)

11 May: The inquest into the death of 31-year-old Rohan Singh, a vulnerable patient who was found unresponsive in his bedroom at the Newham Centre for Mental Health, finds that hospital staff ‘falsified records’ and lied about checks on Mr Singh. (My London, 11 May 2021)


12 May: The High Court rules as unlawful ‘catch-all’ injunctions by local authorities against Gypsies and Travellers camping on open spaces in England. (Guardian, 12 May 2021)


7 May: 800 Students protest and parents call for change after ‘lack of action’ to combat the use of racist language by pupils at Dame Alice Owens school in Hertfordshire. (Welwyn Hatfield Times, 13 May 2021)

16 May: After speculation on social media about the treatment of a pupil for supposed racism, Parrs Wood High School in Didsbury issues a statement saying a teenage boy was temporarily excluded from the school after saying ‘Free Palestine’ because the statement was aimed at ‘a member of the school community based on their ethnicity’. (Manchester Evening News, 16 May 2021)

18 May: The headteacher of Pimlico Academy in London resigns. In March, hundreds of students protested racial discrimination, curriculum changes, uniform policy and the flying of the union flag. (Guardian, 18 May 2021)

A sit-in protest at Pimlico Academy in March. Credit: Kim Loddo, Twitter.


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.

9 May: The Church of England is to review thousands of monuments in churches and cathedrals that contain historical references to slavery and colonialism, with a view to some being removed. (Guardian, 9 May 2021) 

16 May: Arsenal fans express support for Mohamed Elneny after his pro-Palestine social media post had prompted Tal Ofer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to complain to Arsenal and sponsors Lavazza and Adidas. Arsenal defended the player but said it would talk to him about the post. (Middle East Eye,16 May 2021

17 May: The girls and young women’s charity Girlguiding has apologised after an external audit uncovered instances of racism and Islamophobia among girl guides and staff, including racial slurs and jokes, and has launched a diversity and inclusion plan. (Independent, 17 May 2021)


14 May: In Stoke-on-Trent, a 31-year-old man is handed a two-year community sentence, must pay compensation to his victims and is barred from contact for two years after subjecting a mother and daughter to racial abuse and racially aggravated harassment, leaving one in need of hospital treatment. (Stoke on Trent Live, 14 May 2021) 

15 May: A man is arrested in Nottingham on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving following an incident in which a pro-Palestine demonstrator suffered leg injuries. (Nottingham Post 16 May 2021)

16 May: Across social media, Chinese students urge each other to avoid Sheffield following a racist incident in April in which a female attacker allegedly demanded to know if a 19-year-old student was Chinese before hitting her in the face and pulling her to the ground by her hair, resulting in the victim requiring hospital treatment. (Sheffield Tab, 16 May 2021) 

16 May: A Rabbi is taken to hospital after two teenagers, said to be of Asian ethnicity, reportedly shouted religious abuse before attacking him with an unknown object outside Chigwell and Hainault Synagogue in Essex. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 17 May 2021) 

16-17 May: Police receive reports of people shouting antisemitic abuse from a car, covered in Palestinian flags, within a pro-Palestine convoy travelling through St John’s Wood, London. Later, four people are arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences. The words, ‘F**k the Jews, rape their daughters’ were reportedly shouted. It is believed the convoy was composed of cars from Bradford and Slough. (Jewish Chronicle; Guardian, 16 May 2021)

17 May: Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick condemns a ‘deeply disturbing upsurge in antisemitism in recent years’ and says the government will name and shame local authorities that have failed to adopt the IHRA definition of the problem. He also acknowledges a rise in anti-Muslim incidents. (Guardian, 17 May 2021)

17 May: In Wuppertal, Germany, SDP politician and anti-racism campaigner Helge Lingh says giving up is not an option after he reports receiving persistent death threats. (Deutsche Welle, 17 May 2021)

17 May: The Central Council of Muslims in Germany denounce antisemitic incidents including reports that rocks were thrown at synagogues during pro-Palestine protests. (Deutsche Welle, 13 May 2021)

The calendar was compiled with the help of Tania Bedi, Annabelle Woghiren, Graeme Atkinson, Lou Khalfaoui, Jess Pandian, Inês Silva, Yewande Oyekan and Joseph Maggs.

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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