23:31 GMT02 December 2020
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    A Facebook campaign run by Leicestershire County Council, UK and designed to recruit British foster families for asylum seekers had shut down after campaigners received abusive, anti-immigrant comments online.

    A councillor at Leicestershire County Council told the Leicester Mercury newspaper that the campaign, run on Facebook in October-November 2016, was shut down because of racist abuse. 

    The Syrian refugee crisis has seen hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and ending up on European shores, while migrants from other conflict-torn countries in North Africa, Middle East and Central and South Asia, also have been trying to make their way to Europe.

    "We had a campaign, a high profile social media campaign. It was asking if people would be prepared to foster some of these refugees. Not everyone sees the duty in the way I do, there was racist abuse and as a result one of the social media outlets had to be closed," councillor Ivan Ould said.

    However, Leicestershire County Council informed Sputnik that the campaign was a success and any inappropriate comments were removed. 

    "We ran a four-week Facebook campaign which generated over 120 queries, more than treble its target. To manage the campaign, we monitored the site around-the-clock and took down any inappropriate comments," a Leicestershire County Council spokesman told Sputnik. 

    ​The UK government has already informed Leicester City Council that they will need to accommodate for 124 unaccompanied refugee children, as reported by the Leicester Mercury newspaper.

    According to newspaper, the hateful comments to the Facebook campaign mirrored the stories by some UK media outlets that  in October 2016 questioned the age of Syrian refugees coming to Britain. A call from Conservative MP David Davies for mandatory teeth checks of all child refugees to verify their age has prompted outrage from some MPs and members of the public — and even some celebrities.

    'Human Decency Stripped Away' 

    This online abuse and trolling comes in the wake of a report by Professor Neil Chakraborti and Dr. Steve-Jade Hardy from Leicester University, who said that politicians and the media were fueling hate directed towards refugees. 

    The report claimed that the toxic environment around the EU referendum debate in the UK was contributing towards hate incidents.

    "When ordinary people have a political mandate to blame those who are different for society's ills then the shackles of human decency are stripped away," Professor Chakraborti and Dr. Hardy said in their report.

    The resolution to hate crimes such as the one reported and documented by Leicestershire County Council has always been to report it to the police. However, according to Professor Chakraborti and Dr. Hardy, this is not the only solution.

    They believe the public play a vital role in reporting such incidents and when they see hateful comments being shared on social media and in public forums — they should work hard to ensure that it is reported immediately to the correct authorities.

    Stop Funding Hate

    A public campaign started by an online group Stop Funding Hate aims to stamp out abuse directed towards minority groups, such as refugees.

    The group is petitioning for companies such as John Lewis and Virgin to stop advertising in UK newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Express, which they believe are causing division and creating anti-refugee "hysteria" through their reporting via headlines, like the Daily Mail's "Migrants: How Many More Can We Take?"

    The Stop Funding Hate campaign believes this narrative is fueling division and causing racial tension. 


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