Why does the Mail like some Afghan asylum seekers more than others?

Calling for a consistent policy is admirable. Pitting claimants against each other is not.

Georgian soldiers with the Batumi Light Infantry Battalion, Regional Command (Southwest), depart for a patrol at Combat Outpost Eredvi, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 7, 2013. The battalion is one of the largest ground combat assets available to RC(SW).


In a laudable (if strange) move, the Daily Mail has lately taken up the cause of Afghan translators denied asylum in Britain.

The paper whose coverage of migration is usually atrocious has argued translators who risked their lives to help British soldiers deserve their safety from the Taliban.

Sadly (and less surprisingly), the Mail has chosen to do this by setting their ‘good’ claims against other asylum seekers from Afghanistan who did not work as translators.

So today we read:

Afghans win appeal to stay in Britain but translators fear for lives

Dozens of failed Afghan asylum seekers have won a last-minute reprieve to stay in Britain – even as translators from the same country who worked with UK troops are refused a safe haven here.

The Mail reports that 57 ‘illegal immigrants’ from Afghanistan won an appeal to stay in Britain, and contrasts this will the case of translators ‘who fought alongside our soldiers against the Taliban [being] refused permission to come to the UK’.

So, is the Mail calling for asylum for all of the Afghans, or just the interpretors? The answer is not clear.

The story itself is very confused, as if it was originally about the hardships of the Afghan non-translators and the dangers they face at home, but re-nosed to compare the two sets of claimants.

In previous stories and editorials, the Mail has pointed to the scale of ‘bad’ immigration into Britain, and contrasted it with the just cause of the Afghan interpretors.

This makes it look as if migrants and asylum seekers from Afghanistan and elsewhere are complicit in the ‘Betrayal of the Brave’, (the name of the Mail’s campaign, referenced in the story).

But the distinction is a blurry one. If we are to accept the ‘deserving vs undeserving’ model, plenty of Afghans have helped British troops and ‘interests’ or contributed to rebuilding their society after decades of war. Why only focus on the translators?

And even if they haven’t helped British troops and so on, they still face deadly dangers and have rights, as the Mail story acknowledges.

Calling for a consistent asylum policy that respects the human rights of all claimants would be a virtuous move.

But it’s wholly reprehensible to separate out Afghans into sheep and goats. The Mail should make up its mind which it is doing.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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6 Responses to “Why does the Mail like some Afghan asylum seekers more than others?”

  1. damon

    Separating out the sheep from the goats is the whole point of the asylum process.
    You give asylum to those special cases who deserve asylum.
    That shouldn’t really include large numbers of young fit men who have left their family at home to make a new life in the West. Afghanistan is a dangerous place of course but we can’t empty out whole regions of the world. Pakistan is next door to them and millions of Afghans sought sanctuary from the wars there.
    If it is that terrible and dangerous in Afghanistan that people need asylum, we should be airlifting half of the country to the West or getting them to go to Pakistan.


    Pakistan probably supplies more Taliban in Afghanistan. And Pakistan has over 100 million in population. There are not enough bullets to kill them. As one British officer said, we kept killing them and they kept coming . We in Britain need to stop Islamists entering our country or we will end up
    like Afghanistan.

  3. andagain

    Why does the Mail like some Afghan asylum seekers more than others?

    At danger of stating the blindingly obvious: because some of them have served this country at the risk of their lives, and others have not.

  4. Lamia

    Could you please drop the mock-ingenousness, Adam.

    The past decade has demonstrated to the British public that not every person who claims asylum in this country is a nice person. Some of them have been disruptive or damaging to this country, Some of them have been, frankly, fucking evil.

    Most people are happy to give refuge to decent people and especially to those who have put their lives at risk to help our country. As for extremists, terrorists, and violent criminals? Not so much.

    But please carry on signalling your virtue as if there could never be any downside to simply taking all and every person who describes themselves as an asylum seeker.

  5. swat

    I’m pretty sure that we’ve let in a lot of undesirables in the last 10 years; some will be former warlords and guilty of genocide; some will be sleepers waiting for an opportunity to carry out a suicide mission on soft targets Taliban/Al Quaida;’ and some simply crooks and gangsters. We need to reassess the whole lot, as a matter of urgency, and remind them all their leave of stay is temporary.

  6. mr_fatty

    What’s wrong with our own, home-grown villains? You think we can’t produce extremists of our own?

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