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Brexit Triggers Huge Rise in Hate Crimes

LONDON – A few days after Brexit poll, a huge anti-immigrants’ tide of attacks has appeared in the British streets, with many politicians warning against the worrying trend.

“It’s really important we stand guard against any rise in hate crimes or abuse by those who might use last week’s referendum as cover to seek to divide us,” Sadiq Khan, who was elected mayor of London last month, told The Guardian on Monday, June 27.

“I’ve asked our police to be extra vigilant for any rise in cases of hate crime, and I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together and rally behind this great city.”

Prime Minister David Cameron told the cabinet the government “will not tolerate intolerance” and it condemned “some of the incidents we have seen across the country over the weekend of intimidating migrants and telling them that they need to go home”.

Since last Thursday’s vote, Jasvir Singh, a barrister and co-chairman of Faith Forums London, said that he received a dozen reports of people from South Asian backgrounds experiencing racist abuse.

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In the most serious case a Sikh builder was set upon in Dagenham, east London, by men who called him “terrorist scum bin Laden” and tried to pull his turban off before passers-by intervened to protect him.

“It feels like the Leave campaign and the fact it has succeeded has legitimized that rhetoric of blaming the ‘other,’ ” Singh told The Times on Monday.

“Now that we’re on course for leaving the EU some people have been emboldened to air views in public that they would have been much more reticent about expressing in the past.”

“It is time that instead of politicians arguing about who is going to be the next leader they should be calling for unity. Regardless of what happened, people need to feel safe here and they do not feel safe,” Singh added.

Attacks were not targeting south Asians only, extending to Europeans of other nationalities.

A Polish community centre in England was daubed with racist graffiti, while a Polish man and his father who were beaten up on Saturday night.

A witness, who gave his name as Carlos, tweeted about the incident as he came across it: “Walking home, see these men laid out on the floor, thought they were drunk, took a photo, turns out they’ve been battered senseless by ‘English man, English man’. A son and his dad, dad’s unconscious. Blood everywhere.”

Two men were also arrested in Birmingham after a protest outside a mosque on Saturday where police confiscated a banner with the slogan “rapefugees not welcome”.

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Voting to “leave” the European Union, many British were pushing to force migrants to “leave” the UK.

Shazia Awan, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate and Remain campaigner in Wales, was told online: “Pack your bags and go home.”

After collating further incidents of racial abuse – including a doctor reporting racial comments in his local supermarket, Awan tweeted: “Wales wanted out, I think they want us all out with non-white skin. The state of abuse in Wales is shocking.”

The Muslim Council of Britain urged political and civic leaders to heal divisions exposed by last week’s vote.

“In the past few days, we have witnessed shocking manifestations of hate speech not only online but also on our streets,” it said.

The umbrella organization has compiled a dossier of 100 reported racist and Islamophobic incidents since the result of the referendum was announced on Friday.

It had logged “many reports of Muslims and others being taunted with ‘go back home!’ or similar sentiments”.

Alicja Kaczmarek, a Polish community leader in Birmingham, said that in her ten years in Britain she had never before experienced such overt hostility.

“My first feeling after the referendum was that many people made their decision on the basis of immigration and now they feel they have permission to be abusive,” she said.

“It feels very fearful and we wonder if it will calm down or if it will carry on.”

Lady Warsi said that she had spent most of the weekend talking to organizations that tried to tackle racism.

“They have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying, ‘Look, we voted Leave, it’s time for you to leave,’ ” she said.

“They are saying this to individuals and families who have been here for three, four, five generations.”

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.8 million, according to last census published in 2011.