War, borders and civilisational racism

War, borders and civilisational racism

Fortnightly Bulletin

Written by: IRR News Team

IRR News 16 February – 2 March 2022

At least one million people have now fled Ukraine, but the response of the British government to their situation has been shameful. Not surprisingly, the fallout for the UK and Europe from the brutal Russian invasion and bombing of Ukraine dominates our regular calendar of racism and resistance.

The facts we gather here suggest new fault lines for an internationally-focused anti-racist movement to address. For this war – like the wars that have preceded it – will leave its mark on European culture and the way Europeans are perceived around the world. The African Union has already spoken out about the unacceptably discriminatory treatment of African students fleeing Ukraine. And criticism from the Arab & Middle Eastern Journalists’ Association highlights the racism, Orientalism and Eurocentrism of general news coverage ‘that ascribes more importance to some victims of war than others’ – that is, the way that journalists have contrasted Ukrainian refugees, in terms of heritage, education, religion and civilisational values, with refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

It is also worrying that, in a week when we could have been celebrating the Lords’ rejection of both Clause 9 (notice of citizenship deprivation) and Clause 11 (two-tier asylum system) of the Nationality and Borders Bill, that loyalty discourse and scare scenarios, commonplace during the ‘war on terror’, have intensified. Some politicians have called for the expulsion of all Russian citizens and for dual Russo-British nationals to make a citizenship choice; the home secretary has conjured up images of extremists and Russian agents sneaking into the UK posing as refugees; and MPs from BME backgrounds have been falsely accused of supporting president Putin and told to ‘leave the country’, with Coventry MP Zarah Sultana receiving a racially abusive death threat which described her as ‘Putin’s whore’.

This week, we also continue our regular coverage of health issues in the UK. In Observing Injustice, Wayne Farah discusses the recent damning Race and Health Observatory rapid review of ethnic inequalities. He warns that little will change if structured racism within the NHS continues to be divorced from its marketisation, or viewed through the lens of mathematical ‘ethnic inequality’ rather than that of race and class injustice in an unequal country.

IRR News team

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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