18 March 2019
Photographs: Dheepu George
Hundreds of campaigners gathered at George Square in Glasgow on 16 March as part of international protests for UN anti-racism day despite challenging weather conditions
Stand Up to Racism – a coalition of civic organisations, refugee and migrant communities, trade unions, political organisations and individuals – organised a rally against racism and fascism along the streets of Glasgow, starting at George Square.
The event began by observing a two-minute silence to pay tribute to the victims and families of the Christchurch terrorist attack.
Several political and religious leaders, activists, and representatives of organisations such as UNISON, Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), and Justice and Peace Scotland attended in support of the protest.
Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP and chair of Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia, addressed the campaigners. He said: “We gather here in the rain, the wind, the cold to send a unified message to Scotland, to the UK, and to the world that we together will rule out prejudice and hate in all its forms.”
He extended solidarity to all people living in New Zealand, and to the wider Muslim community around the world and assured that the hate will not go unchallenged.
“But we can’t ignore the wider political reality, the politics of us versus the other sowing the seeds of prejudice and hate for political gain. And that’s why we got to come together,” Sarwar added.
He invited everyone to stand up against all forms of prejudices and hatred saying, “It’s a fight for all of us.”
An audio clip from Anas Sarwar’s speech
Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow, thanked everyone who gathered amid the “pishing” rain. She urged the crowd to turn around and shake hands with a person they didn’t know, and people greeted each other with glee.
She said: “We can stand up for one another, we can do that Glasgow, every day.”
Students from across Scotland attended the rally and march. Jared, 20, who showed up to support anti-racism day said that he is campaigning to ensure everyone gets their rights.
Jane Gow from the Education Institute of Scotland [EIS], Glasgow said: “Education is the foundation for kids through which you can get a variety of materials to push the message of anti-racism, fascism, islamophobia etc. and catch them when they are young.”
Margaret Gallacher, UNISON, South Lanarkshire said: “[The demonstration] is very important, has never been more important because of the rise of the far-right. It is important for people around the world to stand together against hatred.”
Margaret Gowan, representative of Justice and Peace Scotland said: “Two thousand years ago [Jesus] said, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ in the bible, and the same applies today.”
Mohammad N Asif, chair of Scottish Afghan Society said: “It doesn’t matter what our colour or race is, what matters is we are all human beings, we belong to one human race. Terrorists and hate cannot divide us.”
Glasgow Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and Glasgow Palestine Human Rights groups gathered at the other side of George Square to protest against the participation of Confederation of Friends of Israel in Scotland and Glasgow Friends of Israel.
There was a heavy police presence at the venue as the march got under way.
Roza Salih, member of Glasgow Girls and campaigner for asylum rights, while marching along the streets said that the world would be a better place if we learn to appreciate the differences among various communities of people and live in harmony.
Video: Dheepu George