TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “It’s hardly surprising the Brexit vote legitimized xenophobia,” Ian Williams, a senior analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus, told Press TV on Sunday.
“The whole basis of the vote was xenophobic fear of foreigners from wherever they’re coming in,” Williams said.
The analyst noted that xenophobia in the UK includes prejudice against white EU citizens as well as Muslims, “but Islamophobia is the most disturbing” because it is tolerated more than other forms of prejudice in the West.
“Islamophobia is one of the forms of prejudice that is almost legitimized, because it has been used so often by otherwise liberal commentators, people who wouldn’t dream of making anti-black remarks or anti-Polish remarks, feel happy to make disparaging remarks about Islam and Muslims.”
Hate crimes in the UK involving racial and religious discrimination have spiked at an unprecedented rate since last year’s Brexit vote, raising concerns that minority groups feel “more vulnerable than ever,” according to a report by The Independent.
Police figures obtained by the UK daily show hate crimes, particularly against Muslims, surged by 23 percent in the 11 months after the Brexit vote, compared with the same period the previous year, the highest increase ever recorded.
Faith groups and organizations representing foreign nationalities have called on the government to take urgent action to review its response to such reports, Presstv reported.
Eleven of the 32 police departments in England and Wales saw reports of hate incidents increase by more than 40 percent last year, with several regions including Kent, Nottinghamshire and Gwent soaring by more than 50 percent.
The record figures confirm previous reports that the Brexit vote on June 23 last year prompted a wave of hate crimes based on religion and ethnicity, and have led to calls for the UK government to “urgently” improve its response to such crimes.
Incidents reported in the past year have included a Muslim man and woman being squirted with acid, leaving them with life-changing injuries, a Muslim female being dragged along the pavement by her hijab, and two Polish men being attacked in the street, killing one of them.