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Emergency campaign launched as racist attacks rise after Brexit

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Amnesty says alarming rise in racism is linked to the vote to leave EU

Amnesty International is launching an emergency campaign to combat racism and xenophobia in the UK, prompted by reports of a rise in racial abuse in the wake of the EU referendum.

The announcement comes amid news that reports to police of online hate crimes rose over the weekend since last Thursday’s referendum.

The UN has also raised concern over the reported rise.

We will not stand by and allow intolerance and racism to become the norm - Naomi McAuliffe

Amnesty will conduct research into the rise in racism examining reports of abuse and its causes, including the public and political discourse around both the EU referendum and the London mayoral election.

The human rights organisation aims to get every local council to sign up to a commitment to condemn racism in all its forms.

Meanwhile it is encouraging people to show their solidarity with people experiencing abuse, using the #AgainstHate hashtag.

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty’s Scotland Programme Director, said: “In the wake of the EU referendum result we have seen some frankly disturbing openly racist views expressed online and in media coverage.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to use the result of this vote as an excuse for racial abuse or aggressive behaviour toward any member of our communities in this country.

“We are very concerned at reports of far-right propaganda stickers appearing in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. These and other acts of intimidation and hate should not be allowed to go unchecked in Scotland and we expect a timely and comprehensive police investigation.

“We will not stand by and allow intolerance and racism to become the norm.”

A member of Amnesty’s Belfast group was verbally racially abused on Saturday night by a man who asked him if he was from the European Union before telling him to “get the fuck out of our country”.

Mohammed Samaana, a nurse in a Belfast hospital, said: “At first I thought he was joking, but then he continued the abuse and started shaking his fists at me. At that point I decided it was better to leave rather than have the incident escalate.

“What makes me really sad is that the three men and three women who were with him didn’t say a word, condoning his racism by their silence. I think everyone now needs to speak out and challenge racism wherever and whenever we see it.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a statement on xenophobic attacks in the United Kingdom:

“I am deeply concerned at reports of attacks and abuses targeting minority communities and foreign citizens in the United Kingdom over the last few days. Racism and xenophobia are completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances.

“I urge the U.K. authorities to act to stop these xenophobic attacks and to ensure that all those suspected of racist and anti-foreigner attacks and abuses are prosecuted.”