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

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


Written by: IRR News Team

Little Amal arrives in Folkestone and is greeted by schoolchildren and actor Jude Law.


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


Asylum and migrant rights

8 October: Updated Home Office guidance states that deporting asylum seekers back to Afghanistan generally presents ‘no real risk of harm’. (Independent, 8 October 2021)

11 October: A Sicilian mayor investigates after Eritreans travel to Italy to visit the graves of family members who died in the Lampedusa shipwreck of 2013 to find bodies had been removed from their tombs and buried in a mass grave. (InfoMigrants, 11 October 2021)

12 October: The High Court rules that victims of trafficking should be granted leave to remain, following a legal challenge against the Home Office by a Vietnamese woman who was forced into the UK by traffickers. (Guardian, 12 October 2021)

12 October: Four leading immigration lawyers report that the Borders Bill represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK, breaching international and domestic law in at least ten different ways. (Guardian, 12 October 2021)

15 October: Officials say the ‘scientific’ age assessments in the Borders Bill for asylum seekers claiming to be children are likely to be bone-age X-rays, which have been condemned since the 1970s as unreliable and unsafe for children. (Guardian, 15 October 2021)

15 October: Alarm Phone and Porco Rosso issue a report, From Sea to Prison, revealing that over 2,500 migrants have been arrested and imprisoned in Italy for up to 30 years on people-smuggling charges for driving migrant boats, in what the report describes as ‘politically charged’ trials. Read the report here. (ARCI/Porco Rosso and Alarm Phone, 15 October 2021; Guardian, 15 October 2021)

15 October: In the first case of its kind, Italian sea captain Giuseppe Sotgui is found guilty of violating international law and receives a one-year jail term for an incident in 2018 in which he handed 101 migrants to the Libyan coastguard after rescuing them in the Mediterranean Sea. (Al Jazeera, 15 October 2021)

16 October: Government amendments to the Borders Bill allow the Home Office to slow, suspend or charge excess fees for visas to nationals of countries whose authorities fail to cooperate with the UK over deportations. (Independent, 16 October 2021)

18 October: The Danish government, citing the threat from Islamist terrorism and organised crime, says that temporary border controls put in place in 2016 will be extended to 2022. (The Local, 18 October 2021)

20 October: The Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, of the Council of Europe, finds that the number of ‘victims’ referred to the UK body has grown tenfold from 1,182 in 2012 to 10,613 in 2020 and warns of the number increasing under provisions in the Borders Bill. (Guardian, 20 October 2021)

Borders and internal controls

7 October: Research by Lighthouse Reports reveals that since 2020, masked security forces and armed police units in Greece, Croatia and Romania have carried out hundreds of illegal pushbacks in a ‘violent campaign’ which implicates the EU, not least through its funding of the Croatian riot police operation ‘Koridor’. (Al Jazeera, 7 October 2021)

7 October: Citing the case of a heavily pregnant Syrian woman who, on arriving in Cyprus by boat, was allowed to stay while her husband and children were sent to Lebanon under a  returns agreement, ECRE denounces the separation of families during unlawful pushbacks to Lebanon where Syrians face dire conditions and potential chain-refoulement to Syria.(ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 7 October 2021)

11 October: The UNHCR releases its legal opinion on the UK’s Nationality and Borders Bill, identifying the creation of an unlawful two-tier system which denies refugees rights, potential departures from well-established principles of refugee status determination and externalisation of the UK’s international obligations. Read the report here. (Electronic Immigration News, 11 October 2021)

11 October: Three riot police officers are suspended in Croatia as the police director launches an investigation into videos that show masked officers assaulting migrants at the border with Bosnia. (Euractiv, 11 October 2021; Ansamed, 11 October 2021)

14 October: A day after the Polish Constitutional Court asserts the primacy of Polish law over EU law in certain treaties, parliament approves a legal amendment allowing for migrant pushbacks at the border, approving also a €353 million plan to build a wall at the border with Belarus. (Euractiv, 14 October 2021) 

14 October: The body of a 24-year-old Syrian man is found by police near the village of Usnarz Gorny, close to Poland’s border with Belarus. (Al Jazeera, 14 October 2021)

15 October: In the Basque Country, France, an investigation is launched into the death of three Algerian migrants who were struck by a train after taking refuge on railway tracks to escape police checks. One man survived. (InfoMigrants, 15 October 2021) 

Reception and detention

6 October: The military is called in to collect data (including on English proficiency and connections in the UK) on Afghan refugees currently living in hotels so as to assist the Home Office in rehousing them. (Guardian, 14 October 2021)

7 October: Northern Ireland’s children’s commissioner says young people are at risk of being forced into poverty because of parental or carer immigration status and the no recourse to public funds policy.(ITV News, 7 October 2021)

10 October: Liberty Investigates reveals that the Home Office spent £3.5 million on a portacabin asylum camp to house 187 asylum seekers at the Yarl’s Wood site before abandoning the plans after a legal challenge was launched on its failure to seek planning permission or conduct impact assessments. (Independent, 10 October 2021)

14 October: In Malta, 32 asylum seekers launch a legal action for breach of rights after being held on tourist boats since April 2020, describing them as ‘floating prisons’. (Newsbook, 14 October 2021; Malta Today, 14 October 2021)


12 October: Spain is accused of failing political refugee Mohammed Abdellah, an Algerian gendarme who fled to Spain after exposing corruption in the border force, only to be deported to Algeria where he awaits a military trial on terrorism charges. (Al Jazeera, 12 October 2021)

17 October: Detention Action brings an action against the government claiming that its failure to comply with its legal duty to ensure adequate legal advice to immigration detainees puts them at risk of unlawful deportation to torture or death. (Independent, 17 October 2021)


6 October: Denmark and Germany coordinate an airlift of its citizens held in detention camps for ISIS sympathisers in northeast Syria. While three women and 14 children are repatriated to Denmark, eight women and 23 children are repatriated to Germany with the women immediately arrested. (Deutsche Welle, 6 October 2021)

13 October: A new report by Rights and Security International accuses the UK of ‘colluding in torture’ by refusing to repatriate 15-20 women and children held in indefinite detention in Syrian prison camps. Read the report here. (Guardian, 13 October 2021)


5 October: Analysis of the first round of local elections in Italy reveals that Brothers of Italy is now more popular than the League with extreme-right voters. (Guardian, 6 October 2021)

5 October: The French parliamentarian Laetitia Avia files a complaint after receiving racist threats. As a black woman in politics, she had already done so a dozen of times in 2017 (L’info, 7 October). 

9 October: According to a recording obtained by the Independent, Jonathan Gullis, a Tory MP, told a fringe meeting at the Tory Party conference that anyone using the term ‘white privilege’ should be reported for extremism and that any teacher should be prevented from criticising Conservatives in the classroom. (Guardian, 9 October 2021)

10 October: Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher of ‘the strictest’ school in Britain, who has attacked ‘woke culture’, is appointed the government’s new Social Mobility Commissioner. (Guardian, 10 October 2021)

12 October: Tory MP James Gray is told to step back as a commander of the St John Ambulance after wrongly introducing Nadhim Zahawi as the health secretary (when Sajid Javid is) and allegedly then telling the audience, ‘they all look the same to me’. (Guardian, 12 October 2021)

18 October: In the second round of local elections in Italy, the far-right Brothers of Italy is defeated by a centre-left candidate in the mayoral run-off in Rome, with the same trend in other large cities. (Reuters, 18 October 2021)


6 October: Hope not Hate exposes Worthing councillor Tim Wills as a supporter of the racist Patriotic Alternative which promotes ‘white genocide’ theories and he is suspended by the Conservative Party. (Guardian, 8 October 2021)         

6 October: After first calling it a vile slander, Péter Barnabás Farkas, the Jobbik far-right deputy mayor of Ózd in Hungary apologises for photos which appear to show him giving the Nazi salute. (Hungary Today, 6 October 2021)

8 October: Amidst reports that a far-right group of at least six officers has formed within a military honour guard battalion, the German defence ministry suspends from all official duties a company of 1,000 officers, pending an investigation of far-right activity, initiation rituals and suspected sexual abuse. (Independent, 8 October 2021)

8 October: In Greece, a top anti-crime investigator demands answers from prison administrators after it emerges that the convicted former Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris has formed The Homeland Party in Domokos prison addressing a far-right public by phone. (Greek Reporter, 8 October 2021)

9 October: In France, four men, including two former soldiers, allegedly linked to the far-right Honour and Nation group are charged with terrorist offences in connection with a plot to carry out a series of attacks, including on coronavirus vaccination centres, prominent people and journalists. (Malay Mail, 9 October 2021)

10 October: Twelve people, including Forza Nuova leaders Robert Fiore and Giuliano Castellino, are arrested in Rome, Italy, the day after anti-Covid-pass demonstrators attacked a trade union headquarters with metal bars, raided a hospital emergency unit, and fought with riot police for several hours. (Al Jazeera, 9 October 2021; Guardian, 12 October 2021)

16 October: In Rome, Italy, between 50,000-100,000 demonstrate against fascism. (Al Jazeera, 16 October 2021).

19 October: In Italy, as part of an anti-terrorist investigation into a neo-Nazi white supremacist group, police carry out dawn raids across the country. (Ansa, 19 October 2021)


13 October: Scotland Against Criminalising Communities issues an appeal on behalf of Dr Issam Bassalat, a Scottish Palestinian man facing terrorism charges in Northern Ireland, on the basis that he is a victim of entrapment by MI5. (SACC press release, 18 October 2021)

13-15 October: In Norway, a Danish man, who allegedly killed five people in a bow and arrow attack in Konsberg, is taken to a secure medical facility as police suggest that mental illness and not a terrorist Islamist motive, as first suggested, was behind the attack.  (Deutsche Welle, 15 October 2021)

15 October: Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British national of Somali heritage arrested on suspicion of the murder of Sir David Amess MP in Leigh-on-Sea, was known to the security services, and had previously been referred to Prevent, although his involvement was short. (Guardian, 17 October 2021; Guardian, 18 October 2021)


6 October: A former Metropolitan police officer criticises the ‘boys club’ culture of open racism and misogyny within the force saying there was open use of derogatory and explicit language and that those who called out the behaviour were allegedly blocked from promotion. (iNews, 6 October 2021)

10 October: A poll finds that voters think that the police have a problem with anti-Semitism. A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism says ‘Jewish confidence in the police is not helped by revelations of police officers affiliated to neo-Nazi groups or who participate in racist WhatsApp groups.’ (Left Foot Forward, 10 October 2021)

11 October: Andy Marsh, head of the College of Policing, says officers are being redeployed to police forces despite being found guilty of misconduct including racism and sexism at hearings due to excessive leniency. (iNews, 11 October 2021)

11 October: A ‘culture of institutional denial’ of racism and sexism has been created by Cressida Dick, says former senior police officer Nusrit Mehtab, who accuses the Met of failing to reform the parliamentary and diplomatic command (PADP), in which Sarah Everard’s killer served, because of internal opposition. She calls for scrutiny of WhatsApp groups that share misogynistic and racist content and social media accounts held by anonymous retired or serving officers. (Guardian, 11 October 2021)

11 October: England’s national data guardian, Dr Nicola Byrne, expresses serious concern over proposals in the Police Bill to impose a responsibility on the NHS to share patient data with police, quoting a clinician’s duty of confidentiality. (Independent, 11 October 2021)

18 October: An undercover police officer who infiltrated anti-racist movements in the 1970s and ‘80s is one of five officers granted permission to give evidence in secret at the undercover policing inquiry. (Guardian, 18 October 2021)

18 October: The inquest begins into the 1 May 2020 death of Abdul Hamid following restraint by West Midlands police and others following a road traffic accident in Coventry. (INQUEST press release, 15 October 2021)


6 October: A report by the French human rights group Défenseurs des Droits highlights the extreme and continuous discrimination faced by the Traveller community. (20 Minutes, 6 October) 

8 October: In France, SOS Racisme reveals that more than 45% of temporary employment agencies agree to racially discriminate in their selection of candidates for the firms that hire them (France Inter, 8 October). 


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.

11 October: Oriel college Oxford installs a plaque next to a controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes, describing him, amongst other things, as ‘committed British colonialist’ who exploited the ‘peoples of southern Africa’. This follows the student protest movement ‘Rhodes Must fall’ and the fact that the college went back on its promise to remove the statue altogether. (Guardian, 11 October 2021) 

12 October: The FA is investigating Hungary supporters’ clash with police officers at the start of their team’s World Cup qualifier against England, after officers enter the away end to arrest a fan suspected of racially abusing a steward. (Guardian, 12 October 2021)

13 October: The National Trust warns of the damage it faces from an ‘extremist’ and ‘anti-woke’ group Restore Trust which is backing a slate of candidates in elections for the Trust’s governing council. (Guardian, 13 October 2021)

13 October:  The first Black Lives in Music study finds that despite increased representation within the British music industry, the sector remains hostile to Black creators and professionals. It highlights the effects of systemic racism on mental health and a racial pay gap that disproportionately affects Black women, with 63% of Black music creators had experienced direct or indirect racism. (Guardian, 13 October 2021)

15 October: GB News presenter Nana Akua shocks co-panellist and is branded ‘vile’ for publicly supporting, on Jeremy Vine’s Channel 5 TV programme, the government plan to give immunity from prosecution to Border Force staff involved in pushbacks, saying they should not rescue refugees from drowning in the English Channel. (Metro, 15 October 2021)

15 October: Jesus College, Cambridge becomes the first British institution to return one of the Benin bronzes to Nigeria. The Okukor, a bronze cockerel, will be returned to Nigerian delegates on 27 October 2021. (Guardian, 15 October 2021)

19 October: Little Amal, the giant puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian refugee, reaches Folkestone on the final leg of her 8,000 km walk from south-east Turkey to Manchester to highlight refugee journeys. (Guardian, 17 October 2021)

Little Amal arrives in Folkestone and is greeted by schoolchildren and actor Jude Law.
Little Amal arrives in Folkestone and is greeted by schoolchildren and the actor Jude Law. Credit: Simon Annand


6 October: Uber drivers go on a 24-hour strike outside the company’s London headquarters to demand compensation over racial discrimination, after many claim to have been falsely dismissed from the company as a result of its use of a ‘racist algorithm’ – a malfunctioning face recognition technology, which allegedly fails to distinguish between and recognise people of colour. (Guardian, 6 October 2021) 


5 October: A report to Queen Elizabeth Hospital trust board of directors reveals that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at the hospital in Norfolk have seen a rise in abuse from patients and the public. (Eastern Daily Press, 5 October 2021)

11 October: The family of Henok Zaid Gebrsslasie, a 23-year-old refugee who was found dead at a mental health facility in Coventry after he took his own life on August 12 this year, is angry that they are unable to bury him because of the wait for an inquest. (Coventry Telegraph, 11 October 2021)

14 October: New figures, produced by human resources professional Sheila Cunliffe and based on information from 2020-21, reveals that white doctors applying for medical posts in London are six times more likely to be offered a job than black applicants, and are four times more likely to be successful than Asian candidates or candidates from a mixed ethnic background. (BMJ, 14 October 2021) 

20 October: Javid Sajid agrees to the use of AI, including new standards for health data inclusivity, to specifically tackle racial inequalities in the NHS so as to ‘level up’ care. (Guardian, 20 October 2021)


14 October: According to Caritas research, 26.7% of foreign families in Italy are living in absolute poverty, compared to 6% of Italian families. (Ansa, 14 October 2021)


7 October: An investigation based on FOI requests by ITV News and Liberty Investigates finds that the number of hate crime cases in which police officers identified a suspect and took action fell from 14,866 in 2015 to 14,398 in 2020 – despite the number of reports climbing to more than 100,000. (ITV News, 7 October 2021)

7 October: Gloucestershire Police appeal for witnesses following a suspected racially aggravated assault, in Cirencester in September, during which a takeaway driver was racially abused by three men and later followed and punched in the face. (Punchline-Gloucester, 7 October 2021) 

7 October: The Landes court in western France sentences to 25 years’ imprisonment the man who, in a racial incident, shot his neighbour Said El Barkaoui five times in May 2018, from which he later died. (France Bleu, 7 October 2021). 

7 October: Brigitte Bardot is fined 25,000 euros for racist statements she made against the people of Réunion, a French overseas territory. (Ouest France, 7 October 2021)

7 October: A 56-year-old woman is fined £783 after she committed theft and racially aggravated assault against a man, in a supermarket in Hertfordshire in October 2019. (Welwyn Hatfield Times, 12 October 2021) 

8 October: A study by End Violence and Racism Against East and Southeast Asian Communities reveals that hate crimes against East and South East Asians in the UK have risen by nearly 50% in just two years, with the biggest increase in incidents occurring between 2019 and 2020, at the start of the pandemic. (ITV News, 8 October 2021)

8 October: The co-owner of an Indian restaurant in Devon delivers food to a male customer’s home and is reportedly racially abused and violently head-butted, in the second racist attack against the restaurant owners since July. (Devon Live, 9 October 2021) 

8 October: A 22-year-old South Asian woman is allegedly approached by a group of youths and punched in the face by a blonde teenager in an unprovoked racist attack in Edinburgh city centre, before the group reportedly crosses the street and slaps another ‘person of colour’. (The Scotsman, 10 October 2021)

10 October: In Nottingham, a 67-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of assault after an off-duty police officer is reportedly punched and subjected to racial slurs in a suspected racial attack. (Nottinghamshire Police, 12 October 2021)

16 October: English Heritage make public, details of a racist attack that occurred on 14 August at their ‘England’s News Lenses’ exhibition in Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, which saw two prints exploring the lives of black British people defaced with a sharp object and the ‘n’ word scrawled across the face of a black model on one of the prints. (Guardian, 16 October 2021) 

18 October: Social media spaces have been flooded with race hate after the background of the suspect in the killing of Sir David Amess was revealed, reports the Voice. A joint statement from UK Somali organisations condemns the killing while advising mosques, visitors and community members to be vigilant. (Voice, 18 October 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.

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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