Gary Lineker receives torrent of criticism after calling response to child refugees' arrival 'hideously racist'

'The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What's happening to our country?' asks former footballer

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The Independent Online

Gary Lineker has received an onslaught of criticism for standing up for child refugees who come to the UK from the “Jungle” camp in Calais.

The former England striker and sports broadcaster suggested the attitudes of some towards young refugees fleeing war-torn countries was “hideously racist” and “utterly heartless” and questioned what was happening to Britain. 

The UK has committed to take more unaccompanied child refugees from the “Jungle” as the French authorities attempt to demolish the camp. Fourteen teenagers from countries such as Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan arrived in Britain from Calais on Monday.

Lineker’s tweets about the "racist" rhetoric which refugees have been subject to prompted a torrent of criticism on Twitter, with some engaging in racist and xenophobic rhetoric to rebuke the footballer’s viewers. Many argued those coming to the UK were not children and were in fact lying about their age, while others demanded Lineker take the refugee children into his home to prove his commitment. 

“Well, that tweet led to some serious blocking. The I'm alright Jack mentality is sickening,” Lineker said in response to one reply. 

Some asked Lineker whether he would live on the same estate as refugees or would allow his daughter to go to school with them.

“These young men, not children, fit the profile of those involved in all terrorist activity in UK,” said one user.

“Human beings are being deprived of a safe life because of terrorists,” said another.

But others were supportive of Lineker voicing his opinions. “I admire you Gary Linekar. Even though many racists eat crisps, you're not afraid to risk losing their custom in order to call them out," quipped one.

Last week, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, informed MPs the French authorities had agreed to verify a list of 387 child refugees with a legal right to come to the UK drawn up by Citizen’s UK. “Once we have that official list we will move quickly within days and remove very quickly those children,” she said.

A spokesperson for Refugee Action told The Independent Lineker was right and we should be welcoming these children.

“These children have experienced unimaginable horrors. It’s fantastic that Britain is finally stepping up to help. We must welcome them, not question their right to be here,“ a spokesperson said. “The vulnerable children and young people arriving from Calais have been assessed by the Home Office and are, at last, being reunited with their loved ones.

“It’s essential that these children receive the support they now urgently need to successfully rebuild their lives. Britain has a long history of protecting those fleeing war and persecution. We need to show those values now by warmly welcoming these young refugees.”