Thousands attend anti-racism march and rally

Anti-Racism March and Rally, Glasgow, 2016
Anti-Racism March and Rally, Glasgow, 2016. Image by photographer Iman Tajik

Thousands of people turned out for a march and rally in Glasgow to condemn racism and support refugees.

The event took place on Saturday, at the same time as other marches in London and Cardiff and across the world to mark the UN anti-racism day.

Campaigners stood together to oppose racism, fascism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and to welcome refugees.

Police said around 2,000 attended the march and rally, although organisers put the figure closer to 5,000.

The event was organised by Stand up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism Scotland, and the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees with the support of the STUC (Scottish Trade Union Congress) and Scottish Refugee Council.

Speakers included Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, SNP local government minister Marco Biagi MSP, Labour’s Pauline McNeill, the former MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, and representatives from community and faith groups, including the Eritrean community in Scotland.

Mr Harvie said: “Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, and some of the responses have been shocking. 

"There are those who seem happy to allow desperate people to drown in the Mediterranean and we see fences and walls being put up to deny fellow human beings safety.

"By contrast, here in Scotland, we have seen an outpouring of compassion from people saying refugees are welcome."

Mr Biagi tweeted: “No to racism; Scotland welcomes refugees.”

Protesters marched in the city centre before gathering in George Square for a rally and speeches.

Gary Christie of the Scottish Refugee Council, who also spoke at the rally, said: "This year we have witnessed ever greater numbers of people fleeing for their lives in pursuit of protection.

"The response in Scotland to this has been overwhelming. Thousands of people from all walks of life took to the streets across Scotland to offer solidarity to refugees fleeing Syria. 

"Yet, across Europe we have seen increasing negative political rhetoric towards refugees. Scotland can be a beacon for the rest of the UK and Europe in how to welcome and treat refugees."