UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has slammed the rise of racism and xenophobia in Britain, advising authorities to focus on real issues instead of fueling racial tensions.
Corbyn, who is fighting former BBC producer Owen Smith to retain the party leadership, made the remarks during a a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) rally at Highbury Fields, north London, on Monday evening.
“To those who indulge in an orgy of xenophobia and racism, you may well have a problem,” he told a racially diverse crowd of thousands. “You can expend a vast amount of energy abusing your neighbor and creating an atmosphere of hate… but in that time you have not employed a single nurse or built a single school.”
The opposition leader further underlined the importance of fighting racism and said bringing communities together was “the only way forward.”
Corbyn also pledged to fight austerity by investing in the rights of workers, reducing students’ debts, and funding new housing programs.
He was then joined by a number of speakers representing various ethnic groups, who complained of growing racism in the UK almost unanimously.
Labour councilor Claudia Webbe, who recently became the third black woman to win a position on the party’s National Executive Committee, echoed Corbyn’s points by speaking about the global refugee crisis.
“Refugees have a right to be here and we have a duty to support them. We must fight to end the demonization and scapegoating of migrants and refugees,” she said.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, thus forcing more people to flee their homes.
Corbyn has stressed that the long-term solution to the problem is to deal with the conflicts causing the migration crisis.
The opposition leader’s opponents challenged his leadership for what they call inadequate efforts to keep the UK in the European Union (EU) during a referendum on June 23.
He has until September 21 to appeal to voters and defeat Smith. The results will be announced in a Liverpool conference three days later.
Corbyn has secured nominations from 285 constituency Labour Parties, more than five times his rival’s 53.