JRS UK condemns the recent violent protests against refugees in Merseyside warning that left unchallenged, “hatred may breed further cycles of violence, hostility and community fracture.” Fifteen people were arrested after members of the far right led violent protests outside a hotel accommodating asylum seekers on 10th February. Protestors were armed with hammers and fireworks, threw stones and set fire to a police van, in full view of residents of the hotel who were trapped inside.
“It is distressing to imagine the terrifying impact of this violence on those trapped in that hotel. People who have fled violence and war have already experienced significant trauma” said Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, “now they will carry this new trauma too, which is to our shame”.
JRS UK have repeatedly expressed concern about the implications of inflammatory language and the impact of rising hostility in legislation and policy. “This episode of violence did not occur in a vacuum”, said Sarah Teather, JRS UK Director.
“Rhetoric that seeks to divide society for short-term political gain has long-term and far-reaching consequences, hardening attitudes and emboldening racism. In the horrifying events in Merseyside over the weekend, we see its sour fruit.”
JRS UK called for people from diverse communities across the UK to find ways to work together to build a sense of welcome and community for all. “Hatred and hostility tends to spread,“ Sarah said, “We cannot afford to let this kind of scapegoating seep deep into our communities where it may jump from one isolated group to another.”
“There are many people in Merseyside working to provide safety to refugees and many others up and down the country who work to build bridges and understanding between people. These protests should be a wake-up call though. The freedom for us all to live alongside one another in peace, safety and security is not something we can take for granted: it is something we have to work at. Neither can we leave it for others to solve. We all play a role in the building of community.
“It is time for people across sectors, faiths and politics to join together and play their part.”