Newspapers urged to curb 'shameful' racism and xenophobia about migrants
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the piece published on Friday, April 17, after hundreds of migrants drowned on their way to Europe, was an example of the racism and xenophobia common in the British press.
“The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches,” he said.
“This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper.
“The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”
Katie Hopkins’s piece argued gunboats should be used to prevent migrants sailing to Europe, adding that her sympathy lay with British truck drivers rather than the migrants who died. She wrote:
“Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.”
The article received an avalanche of public criticism amid the ongoing debate over how to respond to migrant deaths at sea.
Mr Hussein was responding to the Society of Black Lawyers’ reporting the Sun to the Met police over alleged incitement to racial hatred.
He said: “While migration and refugee issues are completely valid topics for public debate, it is imperative that migration policy decisions that affect people’s lives and fundamental human rights should be made on the basis of fact – not fiction, exaggeration or blatant xenophobia.
“History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonizing foreigners and minorities, and it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used in a variety of countries, simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers.”
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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