This Saturday in my home town, the ward in which I serve, we will see a “demonstration” by the Scottish Defence League. Their slogan? Refugees not welcome.
Recently Wishaw saw its arrival of four refugee families from Syria. Syria, A place which can only be described as the depths of hell; where the Assad regime meets ISIS. Where the only people who seem to lose are the citizens who are subjected to torture, starvation, rape, kidnapping and death. When the first wave of refugees came to Scotland I met a woman with two daughters. One of her daughters was dying and was taken straight to hospital, the woman and her other child were given a little flat in Airdrie. She wept and told me her last home had been a chicken coup. She had no living relatives, they had all been murdered, and now she wept for joy because Scotland and extended a hand of love. No child should live in a wooden shelter designed for animals, and especially not when bombs rain on them daily.
So why must we welcome refugees? History. Humanity. Love.
I’ve always been fascinated by the holocaust, but even as child I wondered how that happened and how we in the UK didn’t do more? We read over and over, that we must learn from history, we shouldn’t repeat the horrors of the past. The refugee crisis is our history of today. We are living though it but are we learning? We are a country facing austerity, financial uncertainties, housing issues, and an NHS which is on its knees. However, we are also a country of vast wealth, resources and heart. We should be doing our part for humanity, I don’t want future generations sitting in school asking “why didn’t they do more?”
A local, former Labour, councillor took to the local media condemning the “giving of the elusive back and front doors”. This councillor irresponsibly capitalised on the fears and worries of our local residents, who’ve been on the priority list for a long time. He used their insecurities to stir up a backlash of outrage; but failed to mention the horrific atrocities committed against these incoming refugees. Why? Because elections are coming. What’s racial hatred against a few extra votes, that seemed to be the mentality.
This has given a platform to the vile SDL to come into my town and stir up racial and religious hatred. They don’t care about my constituents on the priority housing list. They don’t care about the NHS or education. They don’t come to my town armed with ideas, or a way to solve community issues. They care about hate. Hate is first and last on their agenda. I will not stand for it. I will be holding hands with people from every political party, community group and religious organisation; to say the only groups who are not welcome in Wishaw are groups who cause dangerous division.
The picture with this post is of Saffiyah Khan who stood up to bigots in England. It’s iconic. It reminds us that we can ALL take our place on the right side of history. Meet with us at Wishaw Train Station at 1230 on Saturday the 15th. We can stand together to say that we will have humanity. We will have kindness and that YES refugees are welcome here.