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Racism on the rise: UK demonstrators call for an end to hate speech

by Rahul Pathak in London


Demonstrations against extremism have been held all across the UK on Saturday.  

The biggest was in London where protestors marched on Downing Street as part of an event called Stand Up to Racism.   

People came in their thousands, groups from all over the country calling for an end to racist violence and extremism in all its forms.

The Stand Up to Racism demonstration is the first in a series of events leading up to the United Nations Anti-Racism Day on March 21.


Sinophobia on the rise

One of the groups taking part was the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding or SACU. 

Iris Yau from SACU spoke to CGTN Europe, saying sinophobia or anti-Chinese sentiment has been on the rise in the UK – especially in years since the pandemic.

"People suddenly [think] they have the right that they can just abuse people verbally on public transportation," she said. "Especially when you're on your own – then you get physical attacks. And it's not just in poor areas it's happening everywhere."

Chinese student Fiona Sim said that she'd been racially abused at her university in the UK.

"I was essentially blocked from taking part in my university's political life and getting involved in groups or cultural societies," she told CGTN. "It was all because I stood up for myself as a Chinese person."


Racist language becoming normal 

The march also comes at a time when racism in public life has been thrust into the spotlight.

Last week a major donor to the ruling Conservative party was accused of making racist and misogynistic remarks about the black opposition parliamentarian Diane Abbott. Also, the Conservatives' former deputy chairman Lee Anderson defected to the right-wing Reform party after claiming Islamists' had "control" of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.


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Many of the people at the march claim that these were examples of how hate speech has become more normalized in mainstream society.

"Racism is being ramped up, particularly by the government and the Tories," said a female protester called Rebecca, referring to the popular name for the Conservatives. "They're trying to redefine extremism to take in a whole load of groups that aren't extremist."

One issue still casting a long shadow is the ongoing war in Gaza. Since the conflict began in October there have been more than 2,000 cases of islamophobia in the UK according to the anti-racism charity Tell Mama – while the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Jewish incidents, said there had been around 2,700 cases involving antisemitism in the same time.  

For the organizers of Saturday's march, it's proof that the battle to fight the politics of hate and division is arguably one of the biggest challenges that this country faces.

Racism on the rise: UK demonstrators call for an end to hate speech

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