As the Founder of Tell MAMA and having led the project for 5 years, it was remarkable to see how fast and how steep the rise in anti-Muslim and racist hate incidents was, so close after the Brexit vote result was known.
By the afternoon of the Friday and within 10-12 hours after the result of the vote being known, we had started to receive reports of racist and anti-Muslim comments at a street level. The first to come in was a woman who was literally chased down the street by a male shouting that she had to leave the UK now that the majority had voted people like her out. She was left shocked, crying and unable to leave her house for months after that incident.
The next incident was against an African Caribbean woman born and brought up in the UK and who chose to report to us since she has seen us on social media. Aged in her mid-30’s she reported in that someone had shouted out the ‘N’ word against her as they drove past and then shouted out ‘Go Home Now’. This was against a born and bred Brit.
This was followed by a third incident where a young Muslim female who was buying her weekly shopping at a grocery store was told to leave the UK and go to Iraq, since the ‘country did not want her’. These are just a few examples of the gut-wrenching racism and prejudice that the Brexit campaign brought out, a latent hate that was sleeping lightly and was triggered when the result of the campaign went in favour of leaving Europe. In the minds of the perpetrators, it was a green light, a re-affirmation that their prejudice and bigotry and their ‘little-Englander’ mentality, was now in the ascendance.
The scale of the bigotry and the racism and the re-introduction of racist terms not heard for over a decade now, shows that much is to be done to tackle, challenge and educate some parts of communities in our country, that such bigotry will not be tolerated. Yet, we are in an environment where there is far less resource for large scale social campaigns to be conducted and there is an online struggle against many more groups who have sprouted up online and who promote such hatred and prejudice online. Add to this the fact that some social media companies will not take down any material unless a direct targeted threat and you can see how the volume of hate messages build up over time.
It is therefore left up to us, the silent majority to stand up and speak out and to use social media as a tool where we challenge and educate where appropriate. If social media has created a social global revolution then what is there to stop us creating our own revolution and to challenge such hatred and bigotry for a more peaceful and brighter future for us all.