A LEADING city councillor has urged Worcester residents to stand up to the ‘underbelly of hate, vitriolic speech and dangerous resentment towards foreigners’ after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
Labour’s Coun Jabba Riaz made the passionate plea after a number of reports of so-called ‘hate crimes’ towards migrants and ethnic minorities across the country since the referendum result on Friday (June 24).
Although no specific cases have been revealed in Worcester itself, West Mercia Police have confirmed a ‘small increase’ in the number of hate crime incidents last weekend, compared to the previous weekend.
In Worcester 53.6 per cent of voters in the city voted to leave the European Union, while 46.4 per cent voted to remain.
Coun Riaz, who serves as cabinet member for Cleaner and Greener Leisure Sevices at Worcester City Council, raised concerns the result had ‘falsely legitimised’ hate towards foreign nationals in the UK and called on Worcester to become a ‘beacon of hope.’
“Reflecting on the events of the past few days, it is an underestimation to state the magnitude of the decision to vote leave has yet to be realised,” Coun Riaz said.
“But what is immediately becoming apparent is the underbelly of hate, vitriolic speech and dangerous resentment towards foreigners is coming to the fore.
“The Brexit result has somehow falsely legitimised hate, open criticism and in some case terrorising of foreign nationals in our community.
“I will go on record to having stated that we as a community need to stand up more than ever before for the values of fairness, inclusivity and tolerance,” he add.
On Monday (June 27) Prime Minister David Cameron condemned ‘despicable’ incidents of hate crime reported across the country.
Coun Riaz urged residents across the city to ‘rally round and look out for each other during what he described as a ‘uncertain and fearful period of turbulence’.
“We must not bow to the actions of a few and defend our freedoms and our neighbours whether they are black, brown, yellow or white regardless of faith, creed or beliefs.
“We as a city must unite and protect our neighbour and fellow men, women and children from such abuse.
“To those immigrant families that have integrated and settled in the UK that pay their taxes, those that fled war torn ravaged countries due to failed foreign policy or evil dictators to those that have escaped torture barbarity and famine, I say from the community in Cathedral ward that you are welcome here.
“You make our ward stronger,” he added.