British Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by an apparent fascist on June 16, was a strong advocate for refugee rights.
Several non-profit groups that used to work closely with her and the refugees for whom she advocated immediately expressed their sorrow and praised her commitment to human dignity in Britain and abroad.
Cox, 41, worked for many years with Oxfam, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Freedom Fund and others on humanitarian issues, including those related to the conflicts in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But she was especially known and praised for defending the peaceful and cheerful cohabitation of the various communities that formed her constituency in Batley and Spen and in England's north
In her maiden speech to parliament last year, Cox said: “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it Irish Catholics across the constituency or Muslims from Indian Gujarat or Pakistan, principally from Kashmir.
“And whilst we celebrate our diversity, the things that surprise me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”
As a vocal anti-racism and pro-refugee activist, Cox also received a tribute from SOAS Palestine Society, which issued a statement saying: “Jo Cox campaigned tirelessly for bringing humanity back to a broken system. Whether it was with advocating for the rights of refugees in Europe or for the displaced and besieged in both Palestine and Syria, she never gave up.”
As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Friends of Syria, she was a vocal critic of the Syrian government but also refused to support airstrikes in Syria.
In contrast to Cox's long record of advocacy, her suspected murder, Thomas Mair, is allegedly linked to the neo-Nazi group National Alliance.
At least one eyewitness claims that Cox's assailant also shouted “put Britain First” — in apparent reference to anti-Islamic far-right group Britain First.
Although Britain First denied any involvement in the murder, the alleged assailant's background speaks to the growing threat posed by anti-refugee and racist groups in Europe. Cox was a prominent advocate for the campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union, a question on which the British public will vote on June 23.
According to a 2013 research conducted by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), more than 37,000 racially or religiously aggravated crimes have been officially reported between 2011 and 2012 — coming out to to more than 100 per day in England and Wales.
More worryingly, the researchers pointed to an aggravation in recent years, as violent racism seemed to extend from major urban centres to smaller cities across the country as never before seen in the recent past.
They blamed political leaders, as well as the national and local media, for giving a platform to messages of fear and hate against migrants and refugees.
“The notion that multiculturalism undermines national identity has been politically mainstreamed — especially in the context of the 'war on terror' — and the Prime Minister [David Cameron] is one of many senior figures to have publicly declared as much,” the report noted.
“Reinforcing this, much national and local media coverage has portrayed Britain as on the cusp of being swamped or 'overwhelmed' by asylum seekers or migrant workers.”
Some in Britain's leading political parties have embraced the narrative of far-right movements relating to race, immigration and asylum, in a bid to attract their electorate. This has turned out to be a counter-productive strategy, as proved by the electoral successes of the far-right groups like the UK Independence Party in recent years.
Given this context, there is plenty of blame to spread around for Cox's murder.
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]