The UK is reeling after its people voted 52-48 to leave the European Union in a referendum on Thursday. The next weeks and months will bring a new period of uncertainty as political parties tear themselves apart and the national economy nosedives.
But for many living in the UK the news is especially scary. In the wake of the decision, racist and xenophobic incidents have apparently risen sharply – prompting speculation that the decision to drop the EU has emboldened the far right.
People took to Twitter and Facebook to share their experiences of abuse, violence and bigotry – behaviour that for some came as a shock. People of many races, nationalities and religions were affected, and Muslims in particular.
Man in Kings X station yells ‘BREXIT’ in my south Asian friend’s face. Within 10 hours of the result I experienced 2 racialised altercations— kerem (@KeremBrulee) 25 June 2016
Yesterday, a (white English) man called me a foreigner. Out loud. My first experience of casual racism in London, ever. Thanks, Brexit.— Basheera Khan (@Bash) 25 June 2016
Just arrived at a 78% Muslim school. White man stood making victory signs at families walking past. This is the racism we have legitimised.— Dr Karen Bateson (@KarenJBateson) 24 June 2016
My parents had to deal with the NF in Bethnal Green, mum spat at, windows smashed, dogs set on us.— Aisha S Gani (@aishagani) 26 June 2016
Some of the reported incidents involved organised protests in public spaces.
My home town of Newcastle. This afternoon. I feel like I am back in the 1980s. pic.twitter.com/8THD1xsn1N— David Olusoga (@DavidOlusoga) 25 June 2016
The violence was reportedly directed towards Europeans, and Polish families living in the UK felt especially vulnerable. Incidents affected families and children.
these cards have actually been put through letter boxes of Polish families in Huntingdon today. I could weep pic.twitter.com/P3maK1Vasf— fencelt (@howgilb) 25 June 2016
People articulated their hatred on social media and even by interrupting news reports taking place in the wake of the vote.
Been standing here five minutes. Three different people have shouted "send them home". pic.twitter.com/cVvmYvC73o— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) 24 June 2016
Welcome to hell. Posted a photo of Sadiq Khan at Pride on my public Facebook page. Response: pic.twitter.com/DJTpceFJsK— Luke Lewis (@lukelewis) 25 June 2016
Some MPs sought to take action in Parliament, and anti-racist groups quickly started mobilising to support those affected by abuse and record what exactly is going on.
But it’s not clear whether the apparent rise in incidents could be a catalyst for change for the better – or whether things might get worse first.
What worries me even more are the number of "this is a lie" replies - folk refusing to accept it. https://t.co/MO2oCPtesu— Dr Rich Boden FLS (@BodenLab) 25 June 2016
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