The conflict in Syria has seen over 5million people flee their country since the start of the war in 2011; this is alongside many others from other parts of the world that have fled war-torn countries and persecution. Over a million Syrian refugees crossed over into Europe in 2015, which has naturally led to a rise in media coverage of refugees.
Right-wing newspapers in the UK such as The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Express have been accused of writing hate-fuelled refugee-related articles, whilst well-known retailers have continued to advertise in these newspapers.
A newly formed campaign “Stop Funding Hate” is challenging retailers who promote an ethical image whilst funding unethical stories and false depictions of refugees, migrants & asylum seekers. These include retail brands such as Marks and Spencer, Lego, Bodyshop, British Airways, Co-Op, John Lewis, Barclays, Virgin Media and Waitrose.
The “Stop Funding Hate” campaign claims these papers are running sensationalist and anti-migrant stories due to xenophobic and anti-immigrant popularism, which increases their readership and in turn their profit from advertising.
Some of the controversial coverage of refugees in the Daily Mail has included Muslim Refugees and rats entering Europe with a sign which reads “Welcome to Europe: Our Open Borders and the Free Movement of People”. There is also an image of a dark figure which has already crossed the border line, with a rifle strapped to his back.
The dangers of such unethical, disrespectful and false images are obvious, they lead to a lack of insensitivity towards refugees, they encourage negative stereotyping of refugees entering Europe and they encourage readers to dehumanise refugees by associating them with animals commonly considered dirty and unsanitary.
This particular cartoon has been likened to an image published in the Viennese newspaper “Das Kleine Blatt” in 1939 of a swarm of rats wiped from the doorstep of Germany, and then delight as they’re barred entry from “democratic” countries.
Such images are outrageous; they are indirectly funded by everyday people who have no idea that their favourite retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Lego, Bodyshop, British Airways, Co-Op, John Lewis, Barclays, Virgin Media and Waitrose are all advertising in these papers.
By exposing retailers and their adverts in right-wing populist press, the Stop Funding Hate campaign is calling on customers to lobby the retailers to stop funding hateful content, through pulling their ads from the papers. The campaign is has already achieved results…
Since the Stop Funding Hate campaign started in August 2016, retailers such as Lego and BodyShop have pulled their adverts from the papers. So not only do retailers have the power to end hate-fuelled media, but so do consumers; by informing retailers that their custom will not be used to fund hate and their custom can be withdrawn if they continue to fund hate.
There is however a fine line between stopping hate and censorship, the Stop Funding Hate hasn’t called for censorship of these newspapers. The campaign is not interested in censorship, it is more concerned with where so-called ethical retailers advertise and challenging these practices of advertising in controversial newspapers accused of fuelling hate.
To find out more about the “Stop Funding Hate” campaign, visit http://stopfundinghate.org.uk/
This article was written by Caroline Alabi.
Caroline is a currently undertaking a Student Dissertation Placement with Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (Church of Scotland) as part of her MSc International Development course at The University of Edinburgh. She also holds an undergraduate degree in BA Business and Politics. Her work experience includes working as an Area Volunteer Manager with Cancer Research UK, working with Hope not Hate as a Faiths Community Organiser campaigning against the BNP (British National Party) in the 2010 local elections in Barking & Dagenham and also a year spent volunteering with Women’s Rights NGO ‘Corporacion Vamos Mujer’ in Medellin, Colombia. She is fluent in Spanish and is also a Trustee for ICYE UK (Inter-Cultural Youth Exchange) specialising in Corporate Partnerships.
Photo: BBC News