Board anger over ‘pejorative language’ towards refugees

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Board anger over ‘pejorative language’ towards refugees

Jewish Labour Movement also criticises 'dehumanising coverage' of asylum seekers, as JCORE hits out at Boris Johnson's comments

A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of Dover, Kent. (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat headed in the direction of Dover, Kent. (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Jewish groups have hit out against rhetoric seeking to stigmatise migrants and asylum seekers and urged the government to ensure safe passage for those entering the UK.

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl criticised “loose, pejorative language” depicting migrants and asylum seekers as “invaders” and expressed concern over photos of “precarious” Channel crossings. 

“The disgraceful smugglers exploiting people in need must be stopped,” she said on Tuesday. 

“And the government should ensure that there are safe and legal routes for those fleeing war or persecution to enter the UK, so no one feels they have no alternative but to risk their life on a dangerous dinghy to reach our shores.”

The Labour Party’s Jewish affiliate said it was “dismayed by the dehumanising coverage of refugees and disgusted by the government’s dogwhistle rhetoric.”

“For us at [the Jewish Labour Movement], this is close to home. Only a generation ago, many of our own members, parents and grandparents were refugees,” the group said on Wednesday.

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) criticised comments by Boris Johnson calling migrant boat crossings a “very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do”. It said: “The government should be condemning divisive rhetoric.”

Immigration Minister Chris Philp promised on Tuesday a “new, comprehensive action plan” to stem the latest surge in migrant Channel crossings after talks with French officials. More than 4,000 migrants have made it so far this year, with at least 597 arriving between Thursday and Sunday.

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