Of all the reasons that prompted the U.K. to vote to leave the European Union last week, perhaps the most maddening one is voters' stance on immigration. ‘Leave’ supporters believed that allowing immigrants and refugees into the U.K. would increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country, and would also take jobs away from native-born British citizens.
Unfortunately, this clear case of xenophobia, or fear of other countries, has led to hate crimes and cases of racism to increase dramatically following the vote.
In Nottingham, BuzzFeed News reports, a pregnant woman wearing a hijab was harassed by a man who told her, “I’m going to need you to lift your dress to see if that’s a bomb you have hiding under there."
The woman needless to say was shocked and scared for her life following this altercation.
“I’m usually very confident and feisty, but I’m feeling a bit shaken, to be honest,” she told BuzzFeed. “It was the first time I’ve experienced something like this, and it’s one of those things that you don’t expect would happen to you. Plus the comment he made were extremely embarrassed and disturbing. It was sick of him to comment on my baby bump.”
And that’s not even the worst occurrence.
As a means of documenting these awful acts, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) began to compile a list of hate incidents coming up after the vote that prove Islamophobia played a major factor in the referendum vote. The incidents have also been documented on social media under #PostRefRacism.
— Menissa (@MenissaS) June 28, 2016
— Marcus (@MarcusPBogle) June 26, 2016
"We are witnessing the shocking extent of this with reports around the country of hate speech and minorities being targeted," Dr. Shuja Shafi, the MCB’s Secretary General told CNN. "We need leadership now more than ever before. Our country is experiencing a political crisis which, I fear, threatens social peace."
Many cases of non-white or non-native British people being told they have to leave the country have been reported, in addition to more violent crimes stemming from the racism clearly running rampant in the U.K. and throughout Europe in general.
According to NPR, racial crimes have seen a 57 percent increase since the referendum. NPR also told the story of a German woman living in London who is afraid to leave her home due to these incidents. She says she has had dog excrement thrown at her house and has been told, like so many others, to “go back home.”
To combat this expanding racism, Brits are wearing safety pins as a sign of protest, signaling that they will intervene in any racist incidents they witness and act as a human "safety pin" for people being harassed.