Two of the world’s superpowers – the US and the UK – have seen a dramatic rise in the levels of hate crimes against minorities and POC in the last year. This doesn’t surprise me – the media tends to appeal to the ignorant and afraid by stoking the flames of hatred against “The Others.” In turn, hate crimes against refugees and immigrants have become a common occurrence. There have been reports of attacks and hate crimes against refugees in all parts of the world. These refugees have escaped indescribable situations and war-torn countries – the least we can do is let them rebuild their lives in peace.
In the UK, immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers faced the ire of many campaigns hell-bent on their expulsion. The Brexit debacle and Leave campaign played its part in demonizing foreigners, and are partly to blame for the open practice of this ideology.
Look at what happened to Reker Ahmed; the 17-year old Kurdish-Iranian was beaten unconscious in London, purely for being an asylum seeker. He was set upon by a mob of people while waiting at a bus stop. It was a despicable attack and heartbreaking to realize that so many people hold that violently hateful ideology.
Germany boasted of nearly 10 attacks a day on migrants in 2016. In Feb 2016, a fire broke out in Bautzen, it destroyed the roof of a building that was being converted into a migrant shelter. According to reports, citizens attempted to block firefighters from getting to the building and cheered at this, some of the migrants feared for their lives while watching this display of celebration at this atrocity.
Recently there were reports from Brazil that 33-year-old Mohamed Ali Abdelmoatty Ilenavvy was assaulted in Rio de Janerio over a disagreement about a vendors spot. He was apparently told to “get out of their country” and that “he would not take their place”.
And that’s not even taking into account the crimes that go unreported due to fear.
I currently volunteer with refugees and asylum seekers in my area. I began coordinating weekly events to help integrate them into society, which quickly blossomed into several lifelong friendships. I’ve heard over and over again similar stories of refugees fleeing to other Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and being treated with hate. I’ve been told that the Lebanese didn’t like refugees coming and taking their jobs so a lot of them suffered while living there. It’s a reminder that this kind of hate can exist anywhere.
In the town that I live in, refugee families have been placed in houses that are far from each other and in communities that are not very diverse. I’ve been told that this is to help them integrate and avoid setting up their own communities. However, I’ve become wary of their placements – because some of these areas are known as racist enclaves. I’ve seen it myself when going for a walk with a Syrian family and their children, the mother speaking to the kids in Arabic. The looks of detest from passers by, the intimidating glares from youths nearby and the absolute avoidance by neighbors.
If you have misconceptions about refugees and asylum-seekers, I urge to go find some near where you live. To engage in conversation – don’t let the media continue to dehumanize them. Befriend them. Experience how kind, welcoming and funny they can be. They aren’t evil – they are human beings with a story.
Every time I hear of a hate attack on the news my heart breaks a little, thinking about all the beautiful refugees that I have met. And how little they have done to deserve this kind of hate.