BY MARK BROWN
GLASGOW — In a powerful blow against the anti-refugee bigots, the Campaign to Welcome Refugees here held a 200-strong hustings meeting in the city's Moir Hall on May 24. Representatives of all six parties, including the Scottish Socialist Party's Tommy Sheridan and left-wing Labour MP George Galloway, spoke.
The meeting was held against a backdrop of a horrific rise in the number of racist attacks against refugees within Glasgow. The night before the meeting, three Sudanese refugees were brutally assaulted by a mob in the Townhead area. Only days before that, Kurdish refugee Habi Abbas was hospitalised by an attack in the Sighthill estate.
In a meeting fuelled by a strong sense of anger and urgency, Sheridan called for opposition to "the divisive poison" of anti-refugee rhetoric from many leading politicians and newspapers. Their bigotry, he said, "has created the basis for the racist thugs to carry out their cowardly attacks".
Galloway added that the language of "floods" of refugees and "bogus" asylum seekers "has to be refuted, whether it comes from Tory or Labour politicians".
Speaking to the Scottish Socialist Voice before the meeting, Haitham Saada, one of the two Palestinian refugees horrifically injured in a racist attack in Glasgow last month, talked about his experience: "Before you come to Britain, you learn that it is a country that supports human rights. In my experience, it is the complete opposite."
Whilst condemning Britain's asylum system and his attackers, however, Haitham also thanked the many people who have sent messages of support, flowers and workplace collections to the family since the assault. His younger brother Ziad agreed: "There are two sides to this issue, it's not all negative. The support from many people has been very refreshing, and we will never forget it."
The meeting expressed strong support for Tommy Sheridan's proposal that refugees be invited into Glasgow's schools to speak to pupils in order to undermine racist myths. The Scottish Trade Union Congress has responded positively to proposals for a mass protest in support of asylum seekers in Glasgow on June 16.
[From Scottish Socialist Voice, <http://www.scottishsocialistvoice.net/>.]