Nationality and Borders Bill: Leading public figures condemn Islamophobic law

Editorial credit: John Gomez / Shutterstock.com

An open letter, endorsed by a broad coalition of experts, civil society and community organisations and leading actors, has condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill as an “Islamophobic” and “overtly racist” piece of legislation.

The letter was organised by CAGE and Media Diversified. It describes the bill as a route to “disenfranchisement and even deportation of people of colour on an unprecedented scale.”

The signatories also call for the public to oppose “the concept of a two-tier citizenship based upon one’s familial origin.”

CAGE Managing Director Muhammad Rabbani said: “The regime of medieval exile imposed by the rafts of racist and Islamophobic citizenship deprivation powers create a two tier citizenship for Muslims and people of colour. This bill will seek to bolster these powers and further erode the right to fair trial when we must be scrapping them entirely.”

The Nationality and Borders Bill is entering the Lords for its second reading, having passed the House of Commons last December. An official petition to remove clause nine has gathered more than 315,000 signatures.

The letter reads:

1- The Nationality and Borders Bill is the latest assault against migrant rights and the democratic rights of British citizens that sharply escalated since the so-called War on Terror. This bill is a route to disenfranchisement and even deportation of people of colour on an unprecedented scale.

2- The Nationality and Borders bill along with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill are unjust particularly for people of colour, and those born outside the UK. They will prevent them from attending protests on any issues of social and political justice. This simple, peaceful action could lead not only to arrest, but to loss of their citizenship – which is never a danger for white British people. This is an overtly racist piece of legislation.

3- The Nationality and Borders Bill stands in violation to the UK’s commitment to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention. It is an expansion of a violent system that dehumanises the most vulnerable, excludes ‘undeserving’ others and will effectively make the Government unchallengeable and refuge and asylum practically impossible. The bill will punish refugees on arrival, it will extend their detention and make it even more difficult for people to be released. The bill makes provisions for offshore processing of migrants, which will render them without rights or protections at all. Furthermore, the bill sets out a range of draconian measures to exclude people from the UK, including a lethal change which allows Border Forces to turn back boats carrying refugees across the Channel.

Home Secretary Priti Patel. Pic: UK Parliament

4- The naivety of assuming “good faith” on the part of the Home Secretary in the exercise of these sweeping powers has become ever clearer over the course of the past few years as the Windrush scandal, the hostile environment and the criminalisation of those seeking asylum from persecution and conflict have all evidenced.

5- Clause 9 of this Bill is merely the pinnacle of a raft of legislation that has already subjected the citizenship of millions of Britons of foreign heritage, including those born and raised in the United Kingdom, to the caprice of the Home Secretary. In fact the Home Secretary, since 2010, has already exercised this power against more than 150 people, overwhelmingly Muslims, using secret “evidence” and secret courts which the affected individual has no ability to challenge.

6- Clause 9 now goes a step further and removes even the duty of notification, leaving millions in constant uncertainty as to the status of their citizenship.

7- The Home Office is effectively collaborating with other governments to make people stateless. It will lead to further clampdown on activists and marginalised people protesting against far-right and authoritarian governments globally.

The signatories call for

1- Citizens and communities to stand united against this Bill and make their opposition to it – in its entirety – loud and vocal: migrants have the right to safe passage and refuge, and citizenship is a right that belongs to all EQUALLY, none should be excluded.

2- The unreserved rejection of the concept of a two-tier citizenship based upon one’s familial origin: it is racist both in theory and in its praxis. Our opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill is based on this exclusionary logic and not merely the notification clause.

3- The preservation of due process in any decision regarding the deprivation of a person’s citizenship: Secret courts, secret evidence and the use of government vetted “special advocates” as the only means to challenge for defendants, should have no place in a country that claims heritage to the Magna Carta.

4- A fair and transparent immigration policy which safeguards the right to humane treatment and due process for all seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

5- Political parties and members of Parliament must pledge to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill and reject it at the first opportunity.

The signatories are:

Muhammad Rabbani, CAGE
Samantha Asumadu, Media Diversified
William Skeaping, Extinction Rebellion
Abdi Hassan, Coffee Afrik CIC
Keval Bharadia, South Asia Solidarity Group
Amritpal Singh Dhesi, Sikh Council UK
Raghad Altikriti, Muslim Association of Britain
Jolyon Maugham QC, Barrister
Dr Halima Begum, CEO, The Runnymede Trust
Adjoa Andoh, Actor and Director
Julie Bentley, CEO, Samaritans
Glenda Andrew, Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants UK
Neil Gaiman, Writer
Nikesh Shukla, Writer
Black Lives Matter UK
Patrick Vernon OBE, Windrush Campaigner
Caroline Diehl MBE, Director of Social Founder Network
David Olusoga OBE, Historian and Broadcaster
Karis Campion, Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
Shamsher Singh, National Sikh Youth Federation
Nayeem Haque, Muslim Youth Network
Sabrina Qureshi, Million Women Rise
Tauhid Pasha, British Bangladeshi Freedom50
Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE
Sharon Kaur, Sikh Human Rights
Ben Jamal, Director Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Simon Blake, CEO, Mental Health First Aid England
Sarah Hughes, CEO Centre for Mental Health
Poppy Jaman, CEO City Mental Health Alliance
Liv Little, gal-dem
Rosie Tressler OBE, CEO Student Minds
Prof. Sunny Singh, Jhalak Prize
Malia Bouattia, Red Pepper Magazine
Ghulam Haydar, Myriad Foundation
Richie Brave, Presenter
Dr Yvonne Ridley, Director General of European Muslim League
Guilaine Kinouani, Author, Race Reflections
Patrice Wellesley-Cole, retired Judge
Ali Kazmi, Save Our Citizenships
Ava Vidal, Comedian and Writer
Anthony Anaxagorou and Patricia Ferguson, Out-Spoken Press
Dorothea Jones, The Monitoring Group
Chris Asumadu, Management Accountant MBA
Patricia Hamzahee, Integriti Capital
Shakeel Begg, Imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre
Mohammed Arshed, Belfast Islamic Centre
Dr. Akhtar-Saeed Bhutta, Secretary, UKIM-Scotland
Selina Ullah, Muslim Women’s Council
Sahra Mire, Ashaadibi Centre
Safia Jama, Women’s Inclusive Team
Amarpreet Singh Kular, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Slough
Suliman Gani, Imam Purley Masjid
Harjit Singh, Kesri Lehar Scotland
Kinjell Singh, Amnesty Society University of Birmingham
Shareefa Energy, Poet, Writer & Activist
Charles Thompson MBE, Screen Nation Media
Jagdeesh Singh, Kesri Lehar UK
Soraya Chemaly, Writer and Activist
Amelia Maling, Steering Committee, Womens Equality Party
Dr Kavita Bhanot, Literature Must Fall
Jake Ferguson, Baobab Foundation and Black Men for Change
Harsev Bains, Association of Indian Communists GB
Leyose Paul, Secretary, Indian Workers Association (IWA GB)
Ashik Mohammed Nazar, Kairali UK
Rory Anderson, Convener, Social Work Action Network
J Mark Dodds, The People’s Pub Partnership
Jane Bassett, National Education Union (Hackney)
Dyal Bagri, National President – Indian Workers Association GB
Daniel York Loh, Chair Equity Race Equality Committee
Jennifer Lim, Creative Producer, Moongate Productions
Lucy Sheen, BEATS.org, Foundling Productions
David Law, Licensee, The Eagle Ale House
Jessica Turtle, Museum of Homelessness
Zita Holbourne, National Chair BARAC UK
Miranda Grell, Barrister
Manasi Pophale, History Speak
Gurpreet Singh Anand, Khalsa Jatha British Isles
Adam Elliott-Cooper, School of Politics and IR, Queen Mary, University of London
CN Lester, LGBTQI activist and author
Yansie Rolston, Associate Director, The Ubele Initiative
Yvonne Field, CEO The Ubele Initiative
Annie Viswanathan, Director, Bail for Immigration Detainees
Ellen Graubart, Unite the Union
Kate Shurety, Charity CEO
Dr Mohammed Rahman, Senior Lecturer in Criminology
Subhadra Das, Writer and historian
Julia Davidson, Founder of Peterborough Windrush
Charmaine Simpson, Black History Studies
Gil Mualem-Doron, Director SEAS
Fahid Qurashi, Lecturer in Criminology
Kamel Hawwash, Professor, University of Birmingham
Kuldeep Singh Deol, Vice PresIdent, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick
Dr Javed H Gill, West of Scotland Racial Equality Council
Sarbjit Ganger, Director Asian Women’s Resource Centre
Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission
Fin Kennedy, Playwright and Artistic Director
Ferda Ataman, Publicist, New German Media Makers
Michael Simons, Hackney Stand Up To Racism
John Mayford, CEO Olmec
Yvette Griffith, Chief Executive, Jazz re:freshed

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