Thank you Perth for united stance

Mus­lim com­mu­nity’s praise for city sup­port on demo

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Clark

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.”

Pride

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