Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi is a journalist and writer-in-residence at Lacuna. Through interviews with Thamer, a Syrian refugee, and Mahalia, a survivor of domestic violence and migrant, Omonira-Oyekanmi demystifies two common narratives in the Brexit campaigns that play on anxieties around immigration and resources.
The official campaign to leave the European Union was based on two xenophobic myths, woven into public discussion. Subtlety was unnecessary because these ideas around immigration had been decades in the making: the media led the narrative, the public understood it and politicians whipped it out whenever things got tricky.
Myth One: Take Back Control
The first myth was that leaving the EU would shield Britain from the refugee crisis and stem the flow of people seeking sanctuary on these shores. This undertone was made explicit by Nigel Farage’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster, which pictured Middle Eastern refugees queuing at Europe’s borders. The subheading read: “We must break free of the EU and take back control.” There was little ambiguity. Taking back control was about keeping this particular group of people out. And this is what many voted for. This is regrettable. Because in reality Brexit will have no bearing on those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.
Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it.
Since David Cameron announced a referendum on whether Britain stays in the European Union, the debate surrounding Britain's role in Europe has triggered a flurry of conjecture regarding the likely outcome of the referendum and the consequences of a vote to leave the EU.
Gordon Brown is the latest to come out in support of the campaign to stay in the EU, claiming it is "not British to retreat to Europe's sidelines" and arguing that Britain needed to be in the EU to shape the continent's responses to terrorism, immigration and climate change. The Economist published a story this week outlining security concerns and questioning whether Britain is safer in the European Union, or outside of it.
Whilst the narrative of opposition to the EU is largely dominated by the right, we've put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism rather than the xenophobia that is so common amongst EU critics. Additional books on the list analyse the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Greek debt crisis, and the nature of the contemporary British far right.
Also new on the Verso blog is an exclusive extract from John Gillingham's The EU: An Obituary, in which he comments on Brexit, the EU’s democratic failures and offers cogent predictions of the European Union’s decline.
(image from The Economist)
Renowned intellectuals including Alain Badiou, Frédéric Lordon and Thomas Piketty put their names to a call first raised by students and professors: to welcome into schools and universities all those fleeing war, persecution and economic and environmental disasters. This article originally appeared in Libération and was translated by David Broder.
To mark 'International Migrants' Day', we publish an article by London2Calais, an group of activists who have been organising supplies and activities in solidarity with those trapped in 'the Jungle' refugee camp. With the global number of refugees having passed the 20million mark for the first time since 1992, they highlight the interconnected political drivers of the exodus - largely western imperialism, regional and national authoritarianism, predatory global capitalism, and a violent, exclusionary border regime.