The bombing of the Dover Refugee Centre: An Act of Terrorism….?

The plight of migrants coming to the UK in boats has been highlighted this week with the bombing of an immigration centre by a pensioner who then went on to kill himself.

The article above by The Guardian raises the question of why the police aren’t treating this attack as an act of terrorism, as it certainly seems like it is.

For an act to be classed as a terrorist act there needs to be proof that there is political motive behind it, and given that the man drove from Buckinghamshire and seemingly deliberately targeted an immigration centre in Dover, this seems to be a violent statement against migration and against asylum seekers more generally.

This act may yet be classified as terrorist once the police complete a search of the man’s house, but it strikes me that had this been, for example, a person that looked like a Muslim throwing petrol bombs at a church, that would probably be labelled as a terrorist act immediately.

Why such extreme acts against an immigration centre…?

This act is probably a protest against the recent rapid increase in migrants coming to the UK in boats from France.

There is some underlying data that shows this kind of migrant crossing has increased rapidly in recent years…

Over the last two years there really has been a RAPID increase…

  • 10 000 in 2020
  • 30 000 in 2021 (a trebling)
  • 40 000 so far in 2022.

Historically the UK has relatively low asylum applications compared to some other European countries…..

Asylum Statistics UK

And assuming that all of those people coming to the UK by boat are going to go on and claim asylum, and these are just the people arriving by boat (rather than other means) this probably means the UK is going to see a marked increase in the number of Asylum claims in 2022, bringing it closer to Germany and France for example.

But of course this doesn’t justify violence against Asylum seekers in the form of petrol bombing migration centres.

We have to keep in mind that asylum seekers are themselves victims already – victims of persecution in their own country, victims quite simply of being born on the wrong side of the global divide and they are just trying to escape to a better life.

Why this violence against asylum seekers …?

Sensationalist reporting of there being ‘an invasion’ of refugees desperately trying to get the UK doesn’t help matters, and neither does the Home Secretary using the same emotive language.

Such discourse and portrayals of refugees only helps to demonise them and maybe helps to encourage people to engage in violent acts against them, because such rhetoric makes people think they are in the right to act against refugees.

There’s also the fact that it takes so long to process asylum claims that huge numbers of people are waiting to claim asylum and in a state of limbo… still in the statistics because they are not processed. If they were processed faster they could integrate more quickly into Britain, get jobs and there would be no problem!

However in the eyes of many immigrants themselves are a problem of course – racism is still rife in the UK and migrants are a handy scapegoat for our current cost of living crisis – someone to target someone to point to and say ‘no money for them, get rid of them, we can’t afford them’.

A brief Marxist analysis of violence against refugees…

  • Global capitalism causes global inequalities and conflict which causes crises
  • Refugees flee various crises caused by Capitalism
  • Some of them come to Britain
  • Poor people in Britain who are themselves victims of being on the wrong side of the internal inequalities caused by Capitalism blame the migrants for making their lives worse by taking up more national resources.
  • Egged on by right wing political opportunists such as Nigel Farage.

Rather what needs to happen is the many victims of the world need to come together and realise they have solidarity and work together to make the world a better place and maybe get rid of the structural inequalities that make the world such an unstable place!

The Bombing of Migration Centres: Final Thoughts…

The number of refugees probably isn’t going to go down in coming years so maybe we need to think more constructively about how refugees and asylum seekers could be useful to us – we do apparently have labour shortages in some sectors of the economy and we are facing an ageing population – most asylum seekers are young men who could help solve both of these social problems if they were just processed through the system more quickly!

Signposting and Relevance to A-Level Sociology

Events such as this bombing are a painful reminder that we are a long way from value consensus in our society, and they are also a reminder that there are many other conflict zones in the world besides Ukraine.

They remind us that Britain is forced to constantly react to global forces outside of its control.

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