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Inflammatory government rhetoric on immigration fuels far right

30th Jun 2023

Nadine Osman

The government’s inflammatory anti-migrant rhetoric and harmful press coverage are fuelling far-right activists online, according to new research by anti-hate campaigners. HOPE not HATE (HNH), a leading campaign group against the far right, discovered that anti-migrant messages in far-right chats spike after government pronouncements and around policy releases by analysing data from the instant messaging app Telegram, media articles, and government announcements.

In its report titled, Stoking the Flames, concluded “the government’s language and harmful policies are fanning the flames of anti-migrant sentiment, which encourages far-right activity.”

According to HNH, as the government’s ‘Stop the Boats’ campaign cranks up, far-right participation in migration is increasing. From 2021 to the first months of 2023, there was a 149% increase in messages on anti-migrant, far-right Telegram channels.

That is an increase from an average of 761 messages per day in 2021 to 1136 messages per day in the first months of 2023.

Far-right activity online spikes around key government announcements, for example in May 2022, an announcement by Boris Johnson that 50 asylum seekers had been told they would be sent to Rwanda led to a 72 per cent increase in messages about migration from far-right groups on Telegram.

In recent months, migrant accommodation has been talked about at an all-time high, with an increase of 316.67 per cent from 2021. This coincides with HNH recording a 102 per cent increase in far-right “migrant-hunter” activity in 2022, compared to 2021.

HNH found that activity spiked following Home Secretary, Suella Braverman’s announcements and use of divisive language: On October 2, 2022, Braverman doubled down on her hard-line policies, vowing to close loopholes such as those for people claiming asylum under modern slavery rules.
There was a 35 per cent rise in messages the following day.

Around November 1, 2022, Braverman used the inflammatory language of ‘invasion’ and we saw a 52 per cent rise in the use of the word ‘invasion’ on Telegram after.

At the point at which the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ was introduced and the accompanying video of Braverman repeating the mantra of ‘Stop the Boats’, messages spiked from a handful to peaks of between 60-80 per day.

Patrik Hermansson, Senior Researcher at HNH, said, “This research is stark proof that the government is not taking the far-right threat seriously but actively feeding it through their rhetoric.

The data shows very clearly that with each government announcement, whether cracking down on small boat crossings, threatening wave machines and jet skis in the Channel, or sending people thousands of miles away to Rwanda, far-right activity spikes every time.”

Rosie Carter, Director of Policy at HNH, said, “The government is the architect of a broken asylum system, but instead of focusing on fixing it for what people seeking sanctuary and receiving communities need, they have doubled down on a divisive agenda with dangerous consequences.

We need to see the government and media take responsibility and end their cruel and inflammatory approach to immigration. It is shameless and hypocritical that the government has said that the ‘values and lifestyles’ of small boat refugees are threatening social cohesion when this research provides clear evidence that the government’s ‘stop the boats’ campaign is feeding the far right.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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