Scottish councils are set to welcome new Syrian refugees tomorrow, saying that the attacks in Paris over the weekend will have “no effect whatsoever” on their plans.
Far right Scottish Defence League demonstrators clashed with pro-refugee activists at the weekend.
The Guardian reports:
Members of the Scottish Defence League gathered in the village of Monkton, south Ayrshire, on Sunday afternoon, claiming to have been approached by residents who were unhappy at speculation that refugees were being given emergency accommodation at a nearby hotel.
Fuad Alakbarov, a human rights activist from Glasgow, said that the SDL protest was drowned out by a counter-demonstration of up to two hundred people, attended mainly by locals in support of the resettlement plans.
Police Scotland confirmed on Monday evening that they had arrested five people for hate crimes linked to Friday’s atrocities in Paris, including four men for alleged racial breach of the peace and another under the Communications Act.
On Monday morning Humza Yousaf, the chair of the refugee taskforce which is coordinating Tuesday’s arrivals and the Scottish government’s only Muslim minister, confirmed that he had informed the police of social media abuse.
The protests came as the first of at least three charter flights is due to arrive in Glasgow on Tuesday, bringing bringing refugees directly from camps around Syria as part of the UK government’s promise to take in 1,000 people by Christmas.
South Ayrshire council insisted that “our support is firm”, regardless of SDL activity in the area. Stirling council – one of the only authorities to confirm the imminent arrival of refugees – said: “These terrorist attacks will have no effect whatsoever on our plans to welcome Syrian refugees to the Stirling area. We have a responsibility to provide safety and refuge for refugees and we will continue to honour this commitment.”
Observing the minute’s silence for those killed and injured in Paris at Glasgow central mosque on Monday morning, first minister Nicola Sturgeon urged Scotland to show tolerance.
“We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance. These people are fleeing their homes in the search for protection and security, and we are their refuge. We cannot let the actions of the few destroy the safety of the many,” Sturgeon said.
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