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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Calm plea as race tensions rise
Asylum seekers demonstrate in Sighthill during a march to the city centre
Asylum seekers marched from Sighthill to the city centre
There have been appeals for calm after two days of protest at the treatment of asylum seekers in the Sighthill area of Glasgow.

About 100 residents, most of them youths, staged a protest to highlight what they say is favouritism towards asylum seekers on Monday night.

The demonstration came after hundreds of refugees staged an angry protest in Glasgow at the murder of a Turkish asylum seeker, who was stabbed to death on Sunday.

Police have refused to rule out a racial motive in the inquiry surrounding the death of 22-year-old Turkish Kurd Firsat Yildiz

The message on the card reads:
Flowers were laid where Mr Yildiz died
City councillors met the leaders of Sighthill asylum seekers on Monday in an attempt to quell rising racial tension.

Despite what council officials described as a "positive meeting", asylum seekers staged a sit down protest at the city chambers.

The refugees have accused the council of not doing enough to protect them from what they see as local hostility.

In a separate incident in Hull, East Yorkshire, on Sunday, police said a 22-year-old Kurdish man was badly hurt in a racially-motivated attack.

The man was slashed across the neck with a knife after he and a friend were approached by a gang of up to 20 white youths near Pearson Park in north Hull in the early hours of the morning.

He has now been released from hospital.

'Measured response'

Mr Yildiz, who had been in Glasgow for less than a fortnight, had been walking home when he was set upon.

Refugees clashed with locals in the Sighthill area on Sunday before staging a protest outside Glasgow council's George Square headquarters.

There were four arrests for minor offences as anger spilled over.

Following a meeting at Glasgow City Chambers between councillors and community leaders on Monday, council leader Charles Gordon said he hoped to give an "urgent and measured response" next week.

Glasgow City Chambers
The protest centred on Glasgow City Chambers
However, he said there were no "quick fixes" and cautioned against "playing into the hands of racists".

He said: "This is a very important issue but we all have a responsibility not to get overwrought and turn talk of race riots into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"The notion that we make some kind of profit from dealing with asylum seekers is not only inaccurate but highly objectionable."

The council is to get an estimated 100m from the Treasury over five years for housing the asylum seekers.

Mr Gordon added: "I would like to see every decent Glaswegian, and indeed every decent reasonable Scot, doing more to speak up when they are confronted by racial behaviour."

Lord Provost Alex Mosson said: "Any criticism of the city on any issue is something that we wouldn't like to see, but the fact of the matter is Glasgow is the sole local authority in Scotland that has shown it is prepared to help people fleeing from persecution and violence in their own countries."

'Time for action'

Anti-racism campaigner Aamer Anwar said: "I think for both sides in the meeting, it was clear something needs to be done.

"I think the council have accepted that they have done something but not enough, and the tragedy is that someone is dead.

"People in Sighthill are telling us that now is the time for action and not just words.

Aamer Anwar addressed the demonstrators
Aamer Anwar addressed the demonstrators
"Fundamentally, what is needed are resources and we are looking to the council to get the government and the Scottish Executive to provide that.

"It's all very well to say Glasgow is doing well by housing asylum seekers, but you have to back that up with resources and education in the community.

"For example, when children as young as five and six are chanting racist abuse it's clear that the education system has failed to do its job."

Norrie Gower, chairman of the Fountainwell Tenants' Association said that things were "a bit volatile" in the area as a result of the attack.

Mr Gower said he remained of an open mind as to whether the murder was racially motivated.

'Racial strife'

He said: "I think maybe a few months ago yes, but things have quietened down lots since our gala day.

"You get the small minority that will harbour feelings of resentment but most people have a hard enough time living up there so they don't want to get involved in racial strife."

There have been more than 90 racially-motivated attacks in Glasgow this year.

The city has an estimated 3,500 asylum seekers - most of whom live in Sighthill - and that number is expected to rise to between 6,500 and 7,000 by the autumn.

The BBC's Huw Williams
"Many believe asylum seekers get better treatment"
Mohamad Naveen Asif, an asylum seeker
says both communities need to learn how to live together.
Lord Rooker, Home Office
"30,000 asylum seekers have been dispersed"
The BBC's Jeremy Bowen speaks to
Charlie Riddell of the Residents' Association and Brian O'Hara of Glasgow's Asylum Support
See also:

07 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Refugee dispersal 'will continue'
05 Aug 01 | Scotland
Murder hunt for Turkish man's killer
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