16 March 2018

“As we go about our day to day work, the people we try to help rebuild their lives speak of feeling constant fear from government policy and on the streets and in peoples faces. And equally, I know I fear for my own family, my community and wider society. Will one of us be targeted? Will anyone stand up for us? Are we on the road to fascism? 

We are frightened of the calculated incitement to violence, maiming and humiliating of vulnerable children, women and men with the threat of “Hurt a Muslim” Day.

We are frightened of the colour coded “hostile environment” making self appointed immigration officers out of everyone from doctors, teachers, landlords and employers.

We know that even being born here, with a British passport, doesn’t make us immune to this hostile environment.

Even the concept of an “illegal” immigrant is a tabloid falsehood, not only for those whose immigration status may have temporarily lapsed or “refused” asylum seekers who eventually win their cases. Because no-one is illegal. 

The racial profiling of Theresa May’s new hostile environment makes it more inevitable that anyone who doesn’t “look” British will be stopped in the streets or in their car or will be denied housing or jobs opportunities. They – and we – will be made to feel “illegal” and unwelcome and not belonging here. 

More people are coming out to justify their racist and prejudiced views shaped by colour coded “news”. 

Each time a black or Asian or Muslim is alleged to have committed a crime, the news makes pointed mention of their colour or ethnic origin, culture or faith. Each time the same act is committed by a white person, their colour, Britishness or Christianity is neither mentioned nor blamed as a contributory factor. In the 1990s there was a strong and robust Commission for Racial Equality who would have had newspaper editors and journalists charged with the crime of incitement to violence or racism. No more. 

You’d think it would only be the far right who would dream up “go home vans”, dump 100,000 letters of asylum pleas from MPs and lawyers unopened in a Croydon back office, let thousands drown in the Mediterranean, then talk up a “hostile environment” based on racial profiling. No, that’s the current UK Prime Minister.

Scotland has no reason to be complacent about its racism problem, our Scottish petrol stations and supermarkets carry the same walls of tabloid hate 24/7. And Racist hate crime is the most prevalent of all hate crimes in Scotland. 

We must stand together united and for the oppressed. It might be your next door neighbour whose an asylum seeker who is facing an illegal eviction. Go and have a word. Be there for her. It might be a Muslim woman who is being targeted on the street because of what she wears. It might be in the workplace where a colleague is being treated less equally. Support her. Whether it’s a fellow citizen, or refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, whether it’s Muslims or the new Scots, whether it’s oppressed Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza, whether it’s the Jewish Community facing anti semitism in Britain. We must stand together.

Just as Theresa May is rolling out her hostile environment, so we as Scots of all tribes should spread enlightenment and teach the racists, the prejudiced and the UK Government a lesson or two about civility. 

We will stand up for the rights of the oppressed and voiceless. 

We will put aside the small differences and stand together united now and always and send to hell their drive to divide us and colour code us and stamp some of us as humans and others as not. We say no to all of this ignorance , prejudice and fake news. And we say Never Again like we mean it.

Robina Qureshi
Director, Positive Action in Housing
Ahead of the Stand up to Racism March on Saturday 17 March 2018 in Glasgow Scotland

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