Socialist Worker

Iraqi family speaks out: ‘The way government treats refugees fuels racism’

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2552

The US and British war and occupation in Iraq has led to chaos and forced people to flee

The US and British war and occupation in Iraq has led to chaos and forced people to flee (Pic: The US Army/Flickr)


A family of Iraqi refugees has compared their intimidation by racists on the streets to that by the Home Office.

Sister and brother Amyna and Waleed Saadoon fled to Britain from Mosul but have been separated by the state.

Amyna is in Croydon, south London, while Waleed is in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, with their mother.

They haven’t seen their father in three years. He is still in Turkey and is not allowed to come to Britain.

Waleed has suffered racist bullying at school.

A group of 20 teenagers went up to him last month saying refugees and Muslims should “go back to where they came from”.

Since then some of them have told his British girlfriend not to go out with a refugee.

Last week they broke his tooth in a fight. Waleed told Socialist Worker, “I wasn’t surprised—I expected this, but what can I do about it?”

He said police “didn’t care”, having repeatedly put off meeting him and refusing to provide an interpreter for his mother, who speaks little English.

“They aren’t going to do anything, or they would have done something by now,” he said.

Amyna added, “There are many people who harass us, particularly my mum who wears a hijab.

Attack

“One week when a terrorist attack had been in the news some women shouted at her, ‘Why are you killing people?’.

“Another time a man came up in her face in the street, and wouldn’t get out of her way. We just all want to be together in London.

“We have appealed to G4S, the company that houses us, but they do nothing. And we are in a new country, so we don’t fully understand the system.”

The harassment isn’t just coming from ordinary people.

The Home Office has refused to give them paperwork such as national insurance numbers—blocking Amyna’s university application.

The Home Office has now said it will appeal to overturn a court decision to grant their mother asylum. If it wins, she could be sent back to Iraq.

Amyna said, “When my brother was beaten up, it was just some teenagers.

“But the message is coming from the prime minister and from the things she says.

“The people in the British government know that Iraq is not a safe place for us—their policies made it that way.

“But they are appealing to send our Mum back there. We’re here, but they won’t let us get on and live a normal life.

“The way the government talks about and treats refugees is what gives these young people the idea to be racist.”


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