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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Influx blamed for area tensions
Police in Sighthill
The area is one of the city's most deprived
The influx of asylum seekers into Sighthill in Glasgow has been blamed for the increase in racial tensions in the area.

The city council, which is to receive an estimated 100m from the UK Government to house refugees, has chosen the deprived area in the north-east of the city to locate more than 2,500 asylum seekers.

A sharp rise in the number of racially-motivated attacks and claims by residents that asylum seekers were receiving preferential treatment have added to local tensions.

Many Glasgow-born tenants resent the move, some say they are "foreigners" in their own country and others remark on the furniture and satellite dishes which they say the refugees are receiving.

Glasgow flats
Asylum seekers first began arriving last April
The asylum seekers are being sent to Glasgow under two programmes.

One which the government is running under the National Asylum Seekers Scheme and the second being run by the London local authorities which have no spare housing capacity.

They come from countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, Rwanda, China, Iran and the former Soviet Union.

Glasgow City Council has pledged to take 7,000 asylum seekers over a five year period and about 4,500 are currently living in the city.

Sighthill Tenants' Association reported a wave of anger when the first batch of refugees came in.

Council criticised

Nazi graffiti began to appear on shop fronts and abuse was levelled at asylum seekers in the street.

Established residents criticised the council for spending money making empty flats habitable for the newcomers while they claimed repairs on their own were being delayed.

There were calls for more effort to be made to integrate the newcomers, and a special gala day was held at the end of June for all residents of the Sighthill area.

Sighthill residents
Residents have protested at claims of preferential treatment
More than 1,000 people gathered for the multi-cultural festival of music, dance and sport.

Strathclyde Police, who organised the event, hailed it a great success.

They have also arranged for interpreters to patrol with police officers.

But despite the public show, underlying tensions have remained.

More than 90 racially-motivated attacks have been reported to the police in Sighthill this year and earlier in the summer the situation was said to be at "boiling point".

Feared fatality

Dr Peter von Kaehne, of the city's Fernbank Clinic, reported treating refugees for a variety of injuries.

Speaking in June this year, he said he feared someone would be killed.

On Monday, the doctor told BBC News Online Scotland that he would not comment on the murder of a 22-year-old Turkish refugee which happened at the weekend.

But he added he was "very upset" at hearing the news.


I think if this attack does prove to be racially motivated it will undo some of the good work which had been done in the area

Dr Peter von Kaehne
"The police do not know whether the attack was racially motivated, we will have to wait and see what happens with the investigation.

"However, I was very upset to hear of the attack. It comes at a time when racial tensions seemed to be easing," said Dr von Kaehne.

He went on: "The situation had been improving in the area, the party which the police organised did much to make things better.

"As the police presence in the area increased, asylum seekers felt they could leave their homes and children were able to play on the streets.

"I think asylum seekers in the area will be very upset and anxious today. We all wait to know more.

Family abused

"If this killing does prove to be racially motivated it will undo some of the good work which had been done in the area."

One family, the Saada's from Palestine, had been targeted for abuse.

Brothers Haitham and Lyad Saada said they had been forced into hiding because they feared for their lives after being kicked, punched and stabbed.

Haitham Saada's daughter Reen said she could not face going to school and refused to leave the family's Sighthill flat.

The stabbing of the Turkish refugee early on Sunday has served to resurrect the public display of fear and tension.

The council has promised to ease the situation and will meet on Monday with representatives from the Sighthill area.

Police hunting the man's killer say they cannot be sure the attack was racially motivated, but they are keeping "an open mind" on the matter..

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Charlie Riddell, Fountainwell Residents Association
"There hasn't been enough back-up by the authorities"
BBC Scotland's Alan Mackay
"The asylum seekers are on the march"
See also:

07 Aug 01 | Scotland
Racist row woman fights eviction
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