‘Brexit opens Pandora’s Box of race-hate, people now scared to leave their homes’
RT: How did you feel after receiving that tweet calling on you to leave the UK?
Shazia Awan: I’ve been involved in the IN campaign for the EU referendum which we had last week. I had been in the election count in Cardiff, in South Wales... I was going home about 5am and about 7am I did a tweet along the lines of David Cameron was the least worst thing about the Conservative Party now that the UK has done a Brexit vote that they would be heading in an incredibly right-wing direction with whoever they get from the Conservative Party to become leader. In response to that, a person tweeted me, who I now know is the member of the English Defense League, a very right-wing racist group and also self-identifies as a Nazi.
He told me to pack my bags and go home, and that Britain is not my country now. I was absolutely disgusted at that because I was born in Wales; I am very proud to be British. However, this Brexit campaign has unleashed a Pandora’s Box of vitriolic race hate in Britain. In just three to four days the race-hate incidents reported have absolutely rocketed. I know several people just within my own social circle that have made reports to the police about incidents that have happened to them. For example, I know of a doctor living in the UK with his family that was abused in the street and told to go back to India. It is a testament to the lack of intelligence of some of the people in the UK that did vote for Brexit that they even think that places like India, Pakistan, Africa would apply to us leaving the EU. It is a real lack of thinking and unfortunately at the moment the United Kingdom is not united. It is not a very nice place to be. In just these few days I’ve experienced a lot of racism myself. And I know several people that are absolutely distraught; people are scared to leave their homes. What’s more there is a real failure from the UK government and any politicians to address these concerns. A lot of their communities within the UK were very proud for us to have EU membership and to be seen as global citizens and part of a wider community. And now that has been taken away from us and it has almost given license to these extreme, right-wing racists to legitimize their views, which is a disaster for community cohesion in Britain.
Nathan Gill, UKIP MEP, told RT: "We made the campaign about getting back our democracy, independence and sovereignty. It wasn’t about immigration; it wasn’t even about the money. It was about one big issue that matters more than any of those things – our democracy. That’s the campaign I fought; that’s the campaign UKIP fought… Angela Merkel flung open the doors to people who were not just proper refugees, but actually economic migrants and basically said, ‘Come over to Europe, you’re all welcome.’ But guess what? There were no jobs for people, no housing for people. The EU is failing everybody equally. Not just the British people. And that is why we voted to leave, because we want control back, and we got control back."
RT: Did anything like that happen before to you?
SA: I’ve noticed about four or five weeks ago that the response from people on the streets changed with the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign concentrating so heavily on issues of immigration with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove very irresponsibly working with people like Nigel Farage and UKIP with extreme right-wing views and again taking donations from people like the British National Party, which is effectively an extremist organization full of racists. They took a £600,000 donation from them to fund their ‘Vote Leave’ campaign. So, the very essence of the campaign legitimizes racism in the UK. And now this campaign has gained momentum and of course it is a disaster for anyone from an ethnic minority living in the UK, anyone who has skin that isn’t white, anyone in a mixed-race relationship, anyone with any kind of mixed background… It is a really worrying time for a lot of people in Britain at the moment.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.