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UK tabloid columnist calls African refugees "cockroaches"

28.4.2015 0:45
Refugees from Africa. (PHOTO:  Vito Manzari, Wikimedia Commons)
Refugees from Africa. (PHOTO: Vito Manzari, Wikimedia Commons)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has charged the British tabloid The Sun with inciting hatred of immigrants. The daily published a column in which author Katie Hopkins compares African refugees to "cockroaches" and talks about them as "feral humans". 

The High Commissioner said the phraseology used in the article is reminiscent of the language used by those who incited genocide in Rwanda in 1994 or of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda, that he believes it constitutes incitement, and that it is unacceptable in a nationwide periodical. The author of the controversial article, published 17 April, is a columnist and former participant on the television reality show "The Apprentice", in which contestants compete for the job of their dreams.  

Hopkins also wrote that gunboats should be deployed against the boats of migrants sailing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. She said she was completely indifferent to the suffering of those risking their lives in the crossing.  

"No, I don't care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in the water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don't care," she wrote.

The column was released just a few hours before a fishing boat full of refugees overturned off the coast of Libya last weekend. Evidently more than 800 of those people died.  

The UN High Commissioner claims the article is "one of the most extreme examples of the thousands of articles targeting foreigners to be published in the British tabloid press during the past two decades." He called on the British authorities, media, and oversight bodies to stop incitement of hatred.

Editors of the British newspaper and the author could be held liable should it be proven that they have broken the law. The British Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) confirmed that it had received more than 300 complaints about the article and is investigating whether the code of journalistic ethics was violated in this case.  

The UN High Commissioner emphasized that all European countries should intervene against racism and xenophobia. He said that "under the cover of freedom of expression" it has become possible to cultivate intolerance against refugees and overlooked minorities like the Roma.  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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genocide, Immigration, OSN, Racism


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