Socialist Worker

Media scapegoating spurs on the thugs

Issue No. 1686

Asian student beaten for being 'Kosovan'

Media scapegoating spurs on the thugs

By Helen Shooter

THE VIOLENT consequences of the anti-refugee hysteria from the press and Tory politicians were exposed last week. On Wednesday of last week a young Asian student was beaten unconscious in Sheffield city centre by thugs hurling anti-Kosovan abuse. He suffered serious head and facial injuries, and is in a critical condition in hospital. Witnesses say that his three attackers, a black man and two white women, thought he was a refugee.

The scapegoating of asylum seekers by all the tabloids, including the Mail, the Sun and the Mirror, and many local newspapers, encourages some to view "foreigners" as fair game. The very next day after the attack Sun columnist Jane Moore let rip another attack on asylum seekers. Moore described physically pushing away a refugee who asked her for money. Moore wrote, "I was walking past a department store when I felt a dragging sensation on my leg. There was a refugee hanging off my ankle, begging for money. This HAS to stop."

Moore went on to claim that rising refugee numbers "will undoubtedly lead to yet another rise in crime against the person". The Tories have decided to whip up hatred of asylum seekers in the run-up to the local elections. Tory Kent County Council last week blamed a hike in council tax on the cost of looking after child refugees.

Kent councillors used these children as an excuse to vote last week to raise council tax bills. Kent Tories lumped together a small cost, less than a penny a day, along with a 7 percent council tax rise already planned, to make it look as though refugees were to blame for the whole lot. And Tory councillors in Hillingdon are meeting soon to discuss a similar hike in council tax. They too blame refugees. This is the party who for 18 years in government slashed every service to the bone.

And if anyone is cheating the taxpayer it is figures like Sun owner Rupert Murdoch. The same paper that calls refugees "scroungers" hides the fact that Murdoch dodged paying any more than 1.2 pence in the pound taxes for ten years. Home secretary Jack Straw refuses to defend refugees against the poison pumped out by the Tories and the press. If the government raised taxes to the levels that existed under the Tories in 1979-88, when the top rate was 63 percent, another �7 billion would be raised each year. That would be enough to fund decent council services for all.

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Sat 4 Mar 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1686
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