Thank you Perth for united stance
Muslim community’s praise for city support on demo
Representatives of the Muslim community in Perth The Muslim community in Perth has come together to thank the city for its support in drowning out a hate-filled protest by the Scottish Defence League last weekend.
Around 50 SDL members came to Perth on Sunday to protest against plans for Perth Islamic Society to move from its current site on the Glasgow Road to a new site on Jeanfield Road.
The far-right group was met with more than 1000 anti-fascist protesters in the city centre, keen to spread the message that the Fair City holds diversity at its heart.
Earlier this week the PA met with representatives of the Muslim community within Perth and Kinross wanting to thank all those who stood with them against the SDL protesters.
Safdar Ali, who spoke to the anti-fascist crowds at Perth Railway Station before the demonstration began, said: “I would like to thank every one of them who joined. I am very, very proud of these people. I have got no words to thank them.
“I have been here in Perth for 35 years now, and I have never had a problem whatsoever. We want to thank all the churches that were involved, Pete Wishart MP and all the councillors and the people who organised this counter-demonstration We are very proud of all of them.”
Kaiser Khalil added: “We find the people of Perth extremely decent. This is a great, friendly place to stay, and I have encountered no problems at all since I have been here.
“I just want to thank all the people who came to the protest against the SDL and to the police for doing such an excellent job for keeping everything in order and calm. This is the first time I have experienced anything like this in Perth, and this protest has actually brought us all together. Instead of dividing us they have made us closer – we love Perth and the people of Perth.”
Malik Rashid added: “It was very peaceful on Sunday. I married a Scottish woman and I have got all my kids here. We are a peace-loving people.”
The counter-protest was arranged after groups calling themselves ‘Perth Against Racism’ met to organise the demonstration against the SDL last week in the Queens Hotel.
At the meeting, representatives from the Muslim community told those gathered the police had advised them to stay inside on the day. Fears were also expressed about what might happen on the day
Mr Ali was in attendance at the meeting and said the group which got together on Wednesday last week made him feel safe enough to come to the counterdemonstration.
He told the PA: “Really the difference was made when I went to the Queens Hotel for this meeting.
“When I went there, I thought, they are all doing this for us, why should I not come out? Look at all these people and what they are doing for us, we should not be staying behind.
“I made up my mind there that I would be there no matter what the circumstances and I encouraged my family and the rest of the community to come families in Perth and we have never had any trouble. We are very happy here and I want to thank everyone, thank you very much. Whenever they need us, we will be there for them.
“We are good neighbours and we have good relationships with them. We don’t feel different, no one here lets us feel we are from the outside. I feel Scottish and I am so proud of the people of Perth and all they have done for us.”
Although Perth Islamic Society is still using its premises on Glasgow Road, members hope to move to Jeanfield Road soon – subject to planning permission being granted by Perth and Kinross Council – and say they will be welcoming the people of the Fair City in to their new mosque.
Mr Ali explained: “Everyone is very happy about the mosque. Everyone will be welcome in the mosque, the people of Perth will be proud of the mosque.
“It is a mosque for everyone. Once we are there we will have a special welcome day, and it will be for everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims.”