Annual anti-racism march draws large numbers despite bad weather
ST ANDREW’S day anti-racism marchers have warned of a rise in Islamophobia if the UK begins a bombing campaign in Syria.
Around 1,500 marches braved the cold and rain to demonstrate against racism and in favour of refugee rights on Saturday (28 November) in Glasgow. The demonstration left Glasgow Green, an historic meeting place for left-wing campaigners, at around 11 before taking in George Square, St Vincent Street and Suachiehall Street.
The annual march began in the late 1980s as a way to stop the far right from using Scotland’s national day as a staging post for racist politics. The Scottish Trades Union Congress organised demonstration included delegations from teachers’ union EIS, retail workers’ union USDAW, Unite, GMB and Unison among others.
This year’s demonstration comes at the end of a year that has seen at least 700,000 refugees enter Europe, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa fleeing war and persecution from the Syrian civil war. The rise of Daesh (Islamic State) and turmoil spreading throughout much of the surrounding region has also led to further domestic social conflict on racial and religious lines.
Akhtar Khan, an anti-racism activist who works with the Afro-Caribbean centre in Glasgow told CommonSpace: “With the rise of the far right across Europe and the influx of new migrants it’s very important that our communities show solidarity with people from across the world.”
He said that more than a decade of wars had “spread chaos around the world” and led to the rise of both the far right and Islamist extremism in Europe.
Deborah Waters, a leading member of the Labour for Independence and now a member of new electoral coalition Rise said: “We need Scotland to be a nation that welcomes refugees and people from all races and backgrounds”
She also called for a political solution rather than a British war effort in Syria: “This demonstration is incredibly important this year, we want to let the government know we do not want to bomb other countries,” she said.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale told CommonSpace: “I think marches like this today are really important for showing that there is mainstream support for uniting against racism and Islamophobia.”
However, she refused to discuss her position on military action in Syria.
The march comes after news that Scotland experienced a sharp spike in Islamophobic attacks in the wake of the Paris attacks.
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Pictures courtesy of Craig Patterson