UNITED NATIONS, WASHINGTON D.C. – At UN, Russia says meddling claims baseless, slams the US

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives for a news conference at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
© The Associated Press Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives for a news conference at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

By ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press (AIWA! NO!)//UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s foreign minister trashed accusations of Russian meddling abroad as “baseless” and used the podium at the U.N.’s biggest event to tear into U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela. He later declared that U.S.-Russian relations “are bad and probably at their all-time low.”

In a rapid-fire, unforgiving speech Friday, Sergey Lavrov pounded away at “self-serving” unilateral moves by U.S. President Donald Trump and assailed crippling Western sanctions against Russia as “political blackmail.”

Lavrov deflected accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other meddling abroad — despite mounting evidence of a broad, coordinated influence campaign.

He criticized “baseless accusations of interference in the internal affairs of certain countries” and turned it around against the West, accusing unnamed forces of “overt endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments,” in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia’s neighbors and the Syrian opposition.

He expanded on that at a news conference later, giving examples of U.S. interference that included the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, promoting efforts to replace the 2015 agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to end the violence in eastern Ukraine.

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He also cited the case of Maria Butina, who has pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges that she tried to infiltrate U.S. political organizations as a covert Russian agent. Russia has called her jailing “preposterous.”

In his U.N. address, Lavrov was particularly angry over U.S. and EU sanctions over Russia’s actions abroad, saying, “We see the desire of several Western nations to preserve their self-proclaimed status as world leaders … and do not hesitate to use any methods including political blackmail, economic pressure and brute force.”

He defended the 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program and said “we will do everything possible” to preserve it. Lavrov called Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal part of a dangerous trend of unilateral measures that risk damaging the post-World War II world order.

Later, at the press conference, he welcomed Monday’s agreement by the five powers still supporting the nuclear agreement — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — to establish a financing facility in the European Union to facilitate doing business with Iran, a key part of the deal which is threatened by U.S. sanctions.

Related Gallery: Reactions to Trump-Putin meeting (Photo services)

“All avenues, all ways are being discussed for Iran to receive what was promised by the Security Council,” he said, including a barter system for oil.Lavrov defended the United Nations — where Russia holds veto power on the Security Council — as the only legitimate place to resolve international issues and disputes.

Russia is framing itself as a counterweight to U.S. power around the world, and Lavrov has been maneuvering in talks at the U.N. this week to shape the future of Syria, influence nonproliferation negotiations with North Korea and bolster Venezuela’s embattled president.

Lavrov met Friday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem at the U.N. Russia is rebuilding trade and military ties with Syria as it looks to a postwar future.

While tensions linger over the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, Russia is determined to keep Syria solidly anchored in its sphere of influence over the long term, as a foothold in the Middle East and as a warning to the U.S. and its allies against future interference.

Also at the news conference:

— Lavrov said talks have begun between U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart who are planning their third meeting since June. He said this was at least an effort to maintain relations and “to roll back and lower” tensions.

— He appeared to accuse unnamed Trump officials of purposely getting in the way of improved U.S.-Russia relations, claiming that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held “quite constructive” meetings in Germany and Finland, but those responsible for implementing the agreements that were reached “are in no hurry to do that.” He cited the absence of any U.S.-Russia talks on important issues including counter-terrorism, cyber-security, strategic stability and major arms control agreements. He said meetings of foreign affairs and defense officials, intelligence and security agencies are also on hold.

“The time for the negotiations is ripe, or I would say overripe,” he said. “The dialogue right now is in limbo.”

—Lavrov rejected the idea of sidelining Iran as a regional player in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. “I don’t think that you can lock it in a cage within its borders.”

He noted that rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar also have legitimate interests and are pursuing them beyond their borders. “So hoping that you can lock Iranians within their own borders, … I don’t think that’s realistic,” he said. The answer, he said, is for all players in the region to sit down and negotiate.

— Lavrov said Russia has started delivering sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Syria following the Sept. 17 downing of a Russian military reconnaissance aircraft by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli air strike that killed all 15 people on board. The friendly fire incident sparked tensions in the region.

He also sharply criticized seven countries — the U.S., Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — for pressuring Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy for Syria, to convene a committee to start drafting a new constitution for the country when there is still no agreement on the 50 civil society members who will serve on that committee. “That would be a grave mistake,” he said, stressing Moscow’s opposition to “artificial timelines.”

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Edith M. Lederer and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed.

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Follow Angela Charlton on Twitter at @acharlton.

Trump Anti-Iran Campaign Rhetoric to UN Security Council

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Photo by: Mary Altaffer
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Trump consolidates anti-Iran rhetoric at UN Security Council; United States this month holds the agenda-setting presidency of the 15-nation council that deals with the world’s most pressing security threats.

Trump takes anti-Iran campaign to UN Security Council

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//US President Donald Trump takes his campaign to isolate Iran to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, chairing for the first time a meeting that will lay bare divisions between Washington and key allies.

Trump will be wielding the gavel at the top UN body, where the United States this month holds the agenda-setting presidency of the 15-nation council that deals with the world’s most pressing security threats.

Trump’s appearance in the formal setting of the Security Council chamber could trigger surprises. UN diplomats note that the US president has been known to stray from protocol and procedure.

During his address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump assailed Iran’s leaders, accusing them of sowing “chaos, death and destruction” and calling on world governments to isolate Tehran.2018-09-26.png

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shot back in his speech, denouncing leaders who have “xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition” and slamming the planned council meeting as a “preposterous and abnormal act.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton warned Tehran of “hell to pay” if it threatens the US or its allies.

“If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens, if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive; yes, there will indeed be hell to pay,” he said, speaking at a gathering hosted by the group United Against a Nuclear Iran, held on the margins of the General Assembly.

“Let my message today be clear: we are watching, and we will come after you.”

Wednesday’s meeting will show a rift between the United States and its European allies over the Iran nuclear deal that Trump ditched in May after repeatedly dismissing it as disastrous.

The United States has moved to reimpose sanctions that had been lifted under the landmark deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and has vowed to punish foreign firms that do business with Iran.

On Monday, the five remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — defiantly announced that they would set up a special payment system to continue trade and business ties with Iran.

The United States had initially said the meeting chaired by Trump would focus on Iran, but later broadened the agenda under the theme of nuclear non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction.

That opens the door to remarks on chemical weapons use in Syria, the drive to denuclearize North Korea and the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, where the United States and the Europeans can show unity.

The usual practice is for the chair to speak last at council meetings, but in this instance Trump will be the first to address the chamber followed by other heads of state.

One of those will be leftist leader Evo Morales of Bolivia, a non-permanent council member critical of US foreign policy and a close supporter of Venezuela.

After the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela in May, Morales took aim at Trump, saying he “must understand that the world is not his estate.”

French President Emmanuel Macron will address the council meeting as will British Prime Minister Theresa May. Russia and China will be represented by their foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi.

Iran has not requested to speak at the council meeting, diplomats confirmed Tuesday although Rouhani will hold a press conference soon after it is due to end.

It will be only the third time in UN history that a US president will chair a Security Council meeting. Barack Obama presided over two meetings in 2009 and 2014.

Trump is one of around 130 world leaders attending the General Assembly in New York which formally began on Tuesday.

Speakers scheduled to address the second day of the assembly include the leaders of war-torn Yemen and Afghanistan while May will make her last speech at the world’s foremost diplomatic stage before Britain leaves the European Union.

Tony Blair: ‘Brexit’s doomed coalition will burst’

Former prime minister Tony Blair. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau
Former prime minister Tony Blair. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

Leading French journalist Marion Van Renterghem meets Tony Blair, one of Remain’s Don Quixotes suddenly realising their task might not be as futile as it first seemed.

AIWA! NO!//From my side of the Channel, I initially saw you Remainers as some tribe of Don Quixotes, at war with windmills, assigning yourselves a quite impossible mission: to bring your compatriots back to wisdom.

Yet as time goes by, it seems that Quixotism might turn into something more achievable. The lies behind Leave are blowing up, the nation’s mood is changing, the move for a People’s Vote is growing. And you, Remainers, have become like little mosquitos, tormenting the government, creating a constant, inescapable noise which is giving ministers sleepless nights.

As a spectator, I am fascinated to witness such a spectacle: the officers who set the course are leaving the ship one after another (Farage has become a radio entertainer, David Davis and Boris Johnson have resigned, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others have cynically transferred their investments out of Brexitland); the captain herself, Theresa May, remains on the bridge – but hardly in control. And yet the ship carries on.

The UK today reminds me of the Fellini film E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On). In it, the ocean liner Gloria N sinks and the passengers evacuate by singing opera arias, after having triggered the First World War. As I watch, I’m amused. As a European, I’m bemused. And scared. Because your story is ours.

But there are mutineers on board the UK’s ship, and in recent months, I have been meeting with many of them: brilliant debaters emerging out of nowhere like Femi Oluwole; previously unknown voices like Gina Miller; older hands putting all their energy to shift opinion, like Nick Clegg, Andrew Adonis, Peter Mandelson… and Tony Blair.

In Paris, Brussels and London, I’ve been meeting regularly with your former prime minister – the most intelligent and reformist politician you have had in recent times, and the man you hate the most.

At one meeting, he stares at me like a martian and dissolves into laughter when I tell him that Europe’s misfortune – Brexit – stemmed from the fact that Britain did not lose the Second World War. I insist: the arrogance of you British and your current teenage crisis over ‘independence’ results from the fact that you were able to stand up to Hitler. “You, the British, look down on Europe because it was defeated, while you weren’t,” I tell him. “As a result, you live under the delusion that the EU isn’t of any use to you, except possibly to facilitate your business affairs.”

He stops laughing and admits: “The British tend to forget the importance of their European heritage. They wanted to join the Economic Community in 1973 only, and they didn’t understand that they should have been a founding member in 1951 or 1957. This would have changed everything.”

He adds: “My vision of Europe has always been political as much as economic. We signed the European Social Charter and I personally laid the foundations for a European defence policy in 2000. Europe must not be only a market, but a broader project that takes into account the social dimension of the market.” The trouble is, even then, he was one of the only Britons to think so.

Years of criticism have given Blair the expression of a Hamlet haunted by some spectre. His hair has whitened, the forehead has darkened. Yet his courtesy and cheerfulness seem to have resisted all the blows.

Even in France, politicians of the left are careful not to mention his name publicly, even though some keep on having meetings with him and envy his exceptional career in power: elected three times for his visionary reforms in the NHS and education and for his humanitarian interventions in international crises.

When campaigning against the Conservative, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2007, socialist Ségolène Royal was blamed by her own party for praising Blair’s policy. Sarkozy himself was more open about their friendship, and said recently that he and Blair might work on some projects together. Emmanuel Macron, when a candidate for the French presidency, said that he was not ashamed to be compared to Blair – he didn’t insist too much, however, knowing this statement would act like a scarecrow to his voters on the left.

Anglo Saxon politicians can’t easily provide a simple template for French ones, who traditionally tend to celebrate the role of the state in the economy. Blair will always be considered a man of the right by the French left – just as he has come to be seen on the British left, since Corbyn shifted it further to the extreme.

Then there is Iraq. His burden, the tragic mistake that has thrown him into hell. His deep motivation for following George W Bush in his Baghdad mission remains a mystery. Was it strategic loyalty to the Atlantic alliance, as he himself explained? Or a kind of a religious revelation? A journalist told me he was present for a telephone conversation in January 2001 in which Bill Clinton urged his friend Blair to be “as close to Bush” as he had been to himself.

According to a YouGov poll earlier this year, only 17% of Britons have a favourable image of Blair. The most smiling of all prime ministers has learned to live with this hostility. “I can’t prevent people from hating me nor can I force them to listen to me,” he says quietly. “But they can’t prevent me from speaking out what I believe in.”

One of the main reasons – apart from Iraq – why Blair irritates you British so much might be that, in one crucial respect, he is so different to you: he is viscerally European.

By European, I mean supporting a community of political, ethical and social values – not only a single market, for one’s own interest. In that sense, Blair is the first genuine European to have occupied Number 10 since Churchill, even if – paradoxically – he is blamed on my side of the Channel for being too British and not European enough. Wasn’t he the strongest supporter to the enlargement of the EU in 2004 and the man who favoured intra-European immigration, both of which have contributed to today’s populism?

“The context was different,” he answers. “In 2004, the economy was booming. If I had been in power for the last ten years, I would have hardened the rules on immigration. It remains desirable and necessary for the economy, but we must hear the anxiety it arouses and regulate it. As for enlargement, can you imagine the eastern countries left behind, with the emergence of Russian nationalism? They would have been more vulnerable, and so would we.”

He pauses, looks for words by looking up to the ceiling and concludes: “The irony is that the single market and the enlargement are British initiatives – Thatcher, then Major, then me. The Brexiters now blame Brussels for what Great Britain wanted and supported… They want to ‘take back control’, but I can’t remember one single law imposed by Brussels that I would have been forced to apply. They want a ‘global Britain’ whereas only the European Union can be global, facing the three economic giants – USA, China, India.”

A silence again, eyes to the ceiling, then: “There are two irreconcilable groups among the Brexiters – those who are scared of globalisation and those who are scared of a too socialist Europe. If Brexit takes place, this coalition will burst.”

He adds: “The government wants to believe that this is a negotiation with the EU, but it is not. Either we stay close to the EU, then we wonder why there would be any reason to leave, or we leave the EU, then we accept to lose the benefits of the single market. There is no alternative.” The inevitable restoration of some sort of border between Northern Ireland and the Republic that Brexit will bring – an issue particularly pertinent for Blair, as an architect of the Good Friday Agreement – is, he says, a “metaphor of the impasse”.

The former prime minister was among the first to articulate calls for what is now called a People’s Vote. “We have the right to reconsider the issue once the deal between London and Brussels is known,” he told me, back in November 17. “It would not be a second referendum, but a new one, given the situation itself is all new. Brexit as it now looks like has nothing to do with what people have voted for. Until March 29 2019, it is not too late.” Back then, it was a fringe view. Not any more, if the polls are correct.

As a strong European myself, I couldn’t understand why you Remainers didn’t take the opportunity, at the last general election, to vote for one of the two only pro-European, UK parties you have: the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. Instead, you showed a Pavlovian link to the two-party system, and then blamed Jeremy Corbyn for his persistent silence on Brexit, despite his notorious, long-standing anti-European credentials.

Blair insists he voted Labour in June 2017 and pretends not to have given up hope that Labour will play the role of a centrist party – “but that looks increasingly unlikely,” he admits. As we would say in France, by the time Labour comes back to the centre hens will have teeth.

So does a new, centrist party remain a possibility for the UK? “The paradox,” Blair answers, “is that a majority of people would vote for a centrist policy – a strong market economy together with a liberal society, justice and mobility not for the few but for the many – while both the two main parties can only be taken over from outside the centre. That is why they both are disappointing and deceitful.” What happened in France with Emmanuel Macron, who broke through with a new political party, En Marche, by blowing up the old ones, can hardly be replicated in the UK’s parliamentary system. But old French politicians thought the same regarding French politics. And all laughed at Macron when he launched his attempt. So perhaps, with Brexit, it should be worth a try in the UK.

The countdown is running in the UK, and across Europe, towards March 29, 2019. Whatever the outcome will be, the anger that caused Brexit remains. As in all European countries, British society is cut in half. In my meetings with politicians from different parts of Europe in recent months, I have never heard such uncertainty. In such uncertainty, as regards Brexit and the possibility of a second referendum, Blair can find some optimism – or pessimism, depending on how you look at it. “Everything is possible,” he says

Marion Van Renterghem is a reporter-at-large and a writer. This article has been partly adapted from a piece published in Vanity Fair France online

LONDON, UK – World leaders support UK’s claims of poisoning against Russia

UK Prime Minister Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa Ma
AIWA! NO!//In a joint statement released on Thursday, the leaders of CanadaFranceGermany and the United States supported the claims made by the United Kingdom that two suspected accused involved in the poisoning of the former Russian spy and his daughter were Russian military intelligence officers and that the Russian government “almost certainly” approved the attack. “We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level,” said the leaders in the statement.

Urging Russia to disclose Novichok programme, the leaders said, ” We, the leaders of FranceGermany, the United StatesCanada and the United Kingdom, reiterate our outrage at the use of a chemical nerve agent, known as Novichok, in Salisbury March 4.”

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday in the UK parliament addressed the Salisbury attack and said that only Russia had the motive to carry out the attack as well as the technical means and operational experience. She referred to the chemical attack as “despicable and sickening”, which killed one woman and has left four others fighting for their lives.

The poisoning of the Russian spy led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. May further revealed that the police investigation has enabled the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) to bring charges against the two suspects, so the security and intelligence agencies have carried out the investigations into the group behind this attack.

Police release mugshots of the men believed to have attacked the former spy with a nerve agent

The prosecutors have also procured a European Arrest Warrant and the police are seeking to circulate Interpol Red Notices. However, Russian law does not allow the extradition of the nationals from their own country.

Meanwhile, Russia has refuted the claims made by the UKRussian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “A link with Russia is being alleged. The names published in the media, like the photos, do not tell us anything.

France Ready to Strike Syria if Chemical Weapons Used – Army Chief

Donald Trump speaks as he meets with the emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC.
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

bY CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//French Army General François Lecointre announced that the army was ready to hit Syria if chemical weapons will be used in the province of Idlib in Syria, Reuters reported.

The statement comes following the announcement of Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov made in late August that militants in Syria were preparing a provocation to accuse Damascus of using chemical weapons against civilians in Idlib.

Denmark has ridiculed itself by banning burkas, activist tells Euronews

Denmark has ridiculed itself by banning burkas, activist tells Euronews
Denmark has ridiculed itself by banning burkas, activist tells Euronews

Algerian businessman and political activist Rachid Nekkaz says he intends to go to Copenhagen to pay the fines of women that have been caught wearing burkas, which are prohibited in Denmark.

In response, the populist Danish People’s Party has threatened to introduce prison sentence for offenders of the ban.

Nekkaz, speaking to Euronews, said: “I regret that [Denmark], which is an example of freedom, has fallen into this trap and ridiculed itself, like France and Belgium,” he said, referring to the European countries’ own burka bans.

When he was last in Denmark, in March, he said that if the country should go through with the ban, he will come every month to pay the fines.

Denmark approved the ban in May.

Nekkaz has announced he will return to Copenhagen in September to pay the fines. So far, he has received eight requests from women who have been fined. He expects that number to rise by the time he arrives.

Foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, Martin Henriksen, told Euronews he disapproved of the activist’s intention.

“Mr Nekkaz’ plans to pay the fines for the women, who break the law concerning full-face veils, is a blatant attempt to undermine Danish legislation,” he said. “As a legislator I am obviously very critical of Mr Nekkaz’ actions. I believe that we should consider taking steps towards new legislation, which addresses this problem.”

He added that a prison sentence of one-to-two weeks as punishment for breaking the ban “would be appropriate”.

Moreover, the money of the volunteer(s) who pay the fines of those caught will be considered taxable income, Henriksen said. That means that the price paid will ultimately be much costlier than just the fines.

But Nekkaz said he will pay the taxes too. And in the case of imprisonment, he will seek the aid of the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council.

Nekkaz has also reprimanded the Danish government on his Facebook page.

“The Danish government is losing its nerve and is threatening women wearing niqabs with 14 days in prison,” he wrote.

Since 2010, Nekkaz has been paying the fines of women that both refuse to remove their veil in European countries, and refuse to wear them in Muslim ones.

According to him, he visited Iran in March to free 29 imprisoned women who had refused to wear the veil, and paid a deposit of over €77,000 to release one of them.

“I defend the freedom to wear or not the veil in the street,” Nekkaz said. “The street must remain the universal heritage of freedom.”

Migrants shouldn’t have to act like superheroes to earn respect — and we shouldn’t treat them as villains

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the Elysee Palace in Paris
France offers citizenship to Malian immigrant who scaled building to save child | Reuters

We were all mesmerised by the sight of Malian migrant Mamoudou Gassama powerfully scaling the side of a building in Paris to rescue a child dangling off a balcony. It was like something from a film. In every sense. Before you could say “Spider-Man’s looking good” he was whisked off to see President Macron at the Elysée Palace, awarded citizenship and offered a job in the fire service, but I reckon modelling and film agents will come a calling soon.

Gassama’s story gripped the world because it had a happy ending, it’s a wonderful feelgood moment and it makes us feel better about migrants. See… we CAN be nice to them… when they do the right thing — such as rescue a child or save hostages, like another young Malian man, Lassana Bathily, did in 2015 during an extremist attack in a Jewish supermarket in Paris. The state can reward migrants as long as they are prepared to die in an act of bravery. Simples!

I have no problem with celebrating this brave young man but we shouldn’t let this lull us into a false sense of security that migrants feel welcome in France or indeed the UK. France is still pretty brutal towards its migrants, particularly those from Africa.

Race relations have been strained since back in 2005 when the then President, Nicolas Sarkozy, called young (mainly black) male rioters “scum”, more than 10 million people voted for Marine Le Pen at the last election, and President Macron has just proposed tough new measures to crack down on immigration and asylum amid complaints from human rights campaigners.

And the Spider-Man story also sets a false test that requires migrants to be “superheroes before they are treated like human beings”, as David Lammy MP tweeted. We talked about this story on CNN Talk on Monday and the question was “What do migrants contribute to your society?” It’s a fair and positive question but why are migrants still having to justify their right to exist in this way?

Because as any immigrant — or their child — knows, there has been a cold, hostile climate for a long time. The Windrush scandal exploded the myth that race and immigration were all kumbaya in the UK. The rhetoric used by politicians and Right-wing newspapers has been relentlessly horrible. “Migrants are here to STEAL your jobs, SPONGE OFF your services, ATTACK your women” screamed headlines for decades using language normally associated with pest control.

Funnily enough, all this has not made people feel welcome. “I am 100 per cent a victim of a hostile environment,” said a promising student on Channel 4 News this week, whose Jamaican-born family have been fighting to remain in the UK for more than a decade and who live in fear of being deported.

Spider-Man getting his citizenship is wonderful but a canny PR moment doesn’t erase the harsh reality many migrants face. So, here’s a thought — instead of expecting migrants to be heroes, how about we try and not treat them as villains?

By Ayesha Haraki

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