British columnist compares migrants to cockroaches

The Sun columnist's violent words about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean are heavily criticized by many.

Updated Jul 28, 2015

People in the UK call for columnist Katie Hopkins to be fired over article published in the Sun newspaper in which she compared migrants to cockroaches.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said “The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches,” in response to the article.

On 17 April, Hopkins, a columnist for the Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, wrote that she did not care for those who risked their lives by crossing the Mediterranean, after a migrant boat recently sank in Italy in an incident that claimed over 800 lives.

The Society of Black Lawyers also accused Katie Hopkins and The Sun's editor David Dinsmore of incitement to racial hatred, and asked London's Metropolitan Police to investigate the case under the 1986 Public Order Act’s incident of racial hatred provision.

More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for Katie Hopkins to be fired from The Sun.

The petition was set up by 22-year-old Izzy Saunders, who said she's angry about Hopkin’s article, which compares migrants to “cockroaches.”

The column, headlined “Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants,” also got reaction from the UN.

The UN’s human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has criticised well as both Katie Hopkins and the editor of The Sun for publishing the article.

In her article Hopkins said “No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad,” about the migrant boat which recently sank in Italy..

Hopkins also said: “What we need are gunships sending these boats back to their own country. You want to make a better life for yourself? Then you had better get creative in Northern Africa.”

She added: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, explained that the word “cockroaches” was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda, and asked the UK government, media and regulators to respect national and international laws on curbing incitement to hatred.

Mr Zeid also added that “This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”

Zeid said Hopkins’ column was far from an isolated incident, accusing the British tabloid press of consistently attacking migrants.

“This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long,” he said.

“I am an unswerving advocate of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but it is not absolute. Article 20 of the same covenant says: ‘Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.’”

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) says it's received more than 100 complaints about the article.
The Sun now has 28 days to put its case to the press regulator before Ipsol rules on whether the column breached an editor’s code that bans the use of racial generalisations.The article will be judged concerning violations of clause one on accuracy and clause 12 on discrimination.

A Sun spokesman said neither Hopkins nor the newspaper would be commenting further.