I’m disgusted by the racism aimed at black footballers – but these people need education, not punishment

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Tuesday 15 October 2019 15:49
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Alexander-Arnold discusses threat of racist abuse

I must be among hundreds of thousands to wake this morning to news of racism at a football match. Immediate sadness will have mounted to sheer frustration and fury as the details became known via radio, press and the internet that a group of young men, privileged and talented enough to be wearing their country’s shirt, were subjected to racist insults and Nazi salutes by a section of home spectators in Sofia, Bulgaria. Why? For being black.

I am not as naive as to think that racism does not go on, even in our own largely enlightened society. Yet I am saddened by every report of it I encounter; far more than “saddened,” I am baffled.

Why would anyone find cause for insult or injury to a fellow person on grounds of skin colour or even culture? My long life has been immeasurably enriched by friendships with Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, East Asians and more.

Admittedly, my professional career gave me the opportunity for such friendships, but for enrichment’s sake, I would certainly recommend cultivating friendships with people from different backgrounds. You will be surprised at what new things you can learn, what new outlooks on life may be gathered.

The current matter in Sofia is an affront to watchers of sport everywhere. The young men on the receiving end are to be commended and recommended, both for their stand and for their courage. No one going about their daily work should experience or be expected to operate under vile abuse.

I hope the young men affected here will take further courage from the support they will undoubtedly receive from right-minded men and women, globally. One hopes that Fifa (in this case) will take appropriate. strong action against the offenders – not so much punishment, as education in what should not by now need to be considered “enlightened thinking”.

David Wallace
West Sussex

Scottish politics

Derek MacKay tells us that Scotland is more than ready in financial and economic terms to leave the UK. *Stifles laughter*. Nicola Sturgeon tells us that there might well be a hard border between England and Scotland in the event of separation. Mike Russell flirts with the idea of getting the courts to force the UK government to allow the SNP to hold a referendum. And Chris McEleny wants to call independence if the SNP wins a majority of seats at an election.

Are we in the middle of a silly season in Scottish politics?

Jill Stephenson
Edinburgh

This is not the end for Extinction Rebellion

The Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in central London have highlighted the existential threat that the carbon economy poses to life on Earth with protests that have been both good-natured and peaceful.

The Metropolitan Police have ruthlessly policed the protests, arresting over 1,400 Extinction rebels including a 77-year-old rabbi. They have also confiscated the property of the demonstrators, including the wheelchairs of disabled activists.

On Monday evening, the police took away the right of protest from Extinction Rebellion by announcing “Any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ … must now cease their protests within London”, threatening that “anyone who fails to comply with the condition is liable for arrest and prosecution”.

However the “Autumn Uprising” ends, this is not the last of Extinction Rebellion. The fight for a future will go on.

As for the police and the despicable Boris Johnson, who sanctioned them to use the “full force of the law” against Extinction Rebellion, I comfort myself with the thought that should we fail to stop catastrophic climate change, they will burn with the rest of us.

Sasha Simic
London N16

Culling at the polls

Given their lack of appeal and Boris Johnson’s ever more glaring ineptitude, maybe the Conservatives will need to go further than disenfranchising those without photo ID to ensure their return to power in future elections.

Perhaps they should restrict the right to vote to those earning over £85,000 per annum? Or maybe Cambridge Analytica could help them identify and ban non-Tory voters? I’m sure Mr Cummings will be thinking along similar lines.

Paul Halas
Stroud

Voter fraud

I was born in the UK 60 years ago (and have a birth certificate to prove this), have always lived in the UK, worked in the NHS for 25 years and have voted in elections since 1978. When my passport expires early next year (I have no plans to travel abroad so do not intend to renew) I will not have a passport. I have a perfectly valid driving licence issued in 1977 (it’s preserved in its original plastic wallet) which I use as proof of identity without a problem. However, I am now to be effectively disenfranchised unless I pay to renew a passport I will not use for the purpose intended or pointlessly change a valid driving licence, ie, pay to retain the right to vote. For which I thank this government, but alas will not be able to thank with my vote.

Lestyn Davies Jones
Leicester

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Catalonia chaos

The decision of Spain’s Supreme Court to sentence Catalan politicians and activists to lengthy jail sentences following their bid to win independence in 2017 is truly appalling.

Normal western countries don’t lock up democratic opponents and for an EU member state in the 21st century to have political prisoners beggars belief. This situation raises serious concerns about the very nature of democracy in Europe.

The EU and the rest of the international community must intervene, offering the parties a way out of the conflict. This is no longer an internal Spanish affair, it is a European and a global crisis. The EU does not need to take a side in the argument, rather it should act as an impartial mediator, looking at democratic and negotiated solutions.

The EU cannot afford not to intervene or the crisis will simply escalate. Let the EU help Spain and Catalonia find peace.

Alex Orr
Edinburgh

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