A group of Manchester Labour Students (MLS) members have been subject to racist and Islamophobic abuse online after a picture of them was tweeted by conservative political commentator and journalist Tom Harwood.
The picture, which was taken at the University of Manchester (UoM) Freshers’ Fair, shows a group of UoM students pointing at a sign that read ‘FUCK BORIS’ at the MLS stall.
Harwood writes for right-wing political blog Guido Fawkes and has over 50,000 followers on Twitter. He shared the photo with the caption ‘Manchester Labour Students’.
Manchester Labour Students pic.twitter.com/sayHuUG1SZ
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) September 18, 2019
The tweet has over 800 responses, with many of the replies directing racist and Islamophobic abuse at the pictured students.
One Twitter user commented: “The photograph shows three non-white people. Are they British passport holders? Have they got a vote in a general election? If not to both, send them from whence they came.”
Other tweets read: “Wow cultural enrichment is really doing well for Labour”, and “Not one British student amongst them.”
Several responses drew comparisons between the students pointing at the sign behind them and the ISIS salute, with comments such as “Giving the Islamist salute I notice”, and “What on earth does that raised index finger represent?” attached to a photo of ISIS militants.
Speaking to The Mancunion, MLS said: “Being targeted by a ‘journalist’ for a far-right rag such as Guido Fawkes is a badge of honour and shows we’re on the right side of history. The racist and Islamophobic comments on the tweet shows just how vile their readership is.”
Sara Khan, Liberation and Access Officer at the UoM Students’ Union, said the comments were “disappointing but not surprising.”
“I think that it’s so so common in universities and educational institutions that when young people of colour get involved in politics in general, especially when they have left-wing politics, they attract attention from these right-wing people who will stereotype them as being ‘terrorists’ and ‘radicals’ for having left-wing politics.
“Obviously those kind of racist, hateful comments are absolutely not okay, they’re completely vile, and we [the Union] oppose that kind of behaviour in every single way.”
Khan also outlined advice and support available to students facing racism on campus: “Practically, if those particular students or any other students…need support then they can hit up our advice service because it does also operate as a third-party hate crime reporting centre. I’m always happy for students to get in touch with me to talk to me about it. I can signpost them to things and also I have similar lived experiences, so if it just helps to chat to someone then I’m always available.”
The Mancunion has contacted for Tom Harwood for comment.