Glasgow & West Scotland

Anti-racism march in Glasgow welcome refugees

STUC march

An anti-racism march in Glasgow has sent out a message that refugees are welcome in Scotland.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress march and rally, which organisers said was attended by about 1,500 people, had the theme No Racism: Refugees Welcome.

Refugees who have made Scotland their home spoke at the event.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said more needed to be done to support refugees at home and abroad and racist attitudes must be challenged.

Speaking before the march, he said: "With a humanitarian tragedy unfolding, it seems appropriate to use the annual anti-racist St Andrew's Day march and rally to send a clear message that Scotland welcomes refugees and that we are ready to provide space in our country for all those who need it.

"With more than 700,000 refugees having entered Europe this year alone, and millions of refugees fleeing Syria and other conflicts and crises around the world, our government needs to face the enormity of this issue and show the compassion that people so desperately need."

He added: "We must also challenge racist attitudes that exist in our community and in our workplaces. The violence directed against Scotland's Muslim community after the Paris attacks shows just how much work still needs to be done."

A number of refugees, now living in Scotland, participated in the rally.

Amal Azzudin, of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, said: "As a refugee, I am very grateful for everything Scotland has provided for me and my family.

"I know that many people would love to have the opportunity to have an education and a chance to have a brighter future.

"Scotland has a great history of welcoming refugees and I am proud to be part of a community that is compassionate and humanitarian."

'Turning point'

Mulugeta Asgedom, from Eritrea, said: "To have refugee status in Scotland was a turning point in my life, above anything else, I felt safe, secure and optimistic.

"I'm able to exercise my fundamental human rights without fear, oppression and torture.

"Eight years ago, I came to Glasgow as a helpless and confused asylum seeker, but now I am a productive citizen who is giving back something to the country that has provided me all the things that I needed."

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The first charter flight of Syrian refugees arrived in Glasgow on 17 November

Hikmat Abal, from Syria, said: "Glasgow became my new Damascus".

Meriem Timizar, of the Refugee Women's Strategy Group, said: "I think it is shameful that we are turning our backs on refugees, no matter where they are from. When did it become acceptable to turn a blind eye on other human beings in need of help?"

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "How we respond to the arrival of refugees from Syria will say a lot about who we are as a nation.

"By marching through the streets of Glasgow today we can send a strong message to those who have made their way here from afar in search of a better life.

"We can let refugees fleeing civil war and terrorism in Syria know that they are welcome here and will find the hand of friendship in Scotland."

The first charter flight of Syrian refugees arrived in Glasgow on 17 November.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Grahame Smith called for more to be done to support refugees at home and abroad

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