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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Ministers in asylum seekers pledge
The entrance to the block where the stabbing happened
An Iranian man was attacked outside his home
Ministers have promised action to ease the plight of asylum seekers in Scotland.

The pledge was made on Wednesday by Deputy Health Minister Malcom Chisholm after he met a refugee help group in Glasgow.

Mr Chisholm said that he would be discussing further measures with ministerial colleagues "later this week" and encouraged more Scottish councils to "play a role" in dealing with refugees.

He also said that the executive would announce details of an "integration forum" to help the "sizeable numbers of asylum seekers" settle into Scottish life.

Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm: Talks with consortium
Mr Chisholm's meeting with the Scottish Asylum Seekers Consortium followed days of racial tension in the Sighthill area of Glasgow.

Demonstrations by asylum seekers and disgruntled locals followed the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Turkish Kurd Firsat Yildiz in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The situation was further inflamed on Tuesday night when a 22-year-old Iranian asylum seeker was stabbed while emptying his rubbish.

Although the meeting had been arranged weeks in advance of the two stabbings, Mr Chisholm came under pressure to address the spiraling racial tensions in Sighthill.

After the meeting broke up he said: "Today's meeting has given me a first-hand opportunity to hear about the situation here in Glasgow and to discuss ways in which improvements can be made for asylum seekers and refugees in the city.

Small minority blamed

"The first thing, however, is to condemn unreservedly the small minority who have harassed and attacked asylum seekers over recent months."

Mr Chisholm praised the efforts of the police, city council and support groups in "providing services and protection for asylum seekers".

He said: "I have discussed today what more needs to be done, and shall be having further discussions with other ministers later this week.

Asylum seekers protest after the weekend murder
About 1,500 asylum seekers are in Sighthill
"I also hope that more Scottish local authorities will play a role in offering a welcome and a home to asylum seekers and refugees.

"We want to learn all we can from the events of this week and how that can be fed back into the UK Government's policy for the dispersal of asylum seekers.

"We must also look to the longer-term. A sizeable number of asylum seekers will be granted leave to become permanent citizens of our country.

"I am clear that we need to co-ordinate the integration of these refugees in Scotland, and I expect to be able to announce details shortly of a new Integration Forum to oversee the Scottish dimension of this issue."

As Mr Chisholm was engaged in talks with the Asylum Seekers Consortium, police were conducting door-to-door enquiries in Sighthill and examining CCTV footage after a 22-year-old Iranian man was stabbed in the back.

Outpouring of grief

The man, who is not being named, was attacked by three or four white youths outside his home on the seventh floor of a tower block on Tuesday evening.

Enquiries were also continuing into the death of 22-year-old Firsat Yildiz on Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Smith, the local police chief, has moved to ease tensions as officers probe both stabbings.

Kevin Smith
Chief Supt Kevin Smith appealed for calm
He said he "everyone has to take a deep breath" to ensure Tuesday's stabbing is not blown out of proportion.

Mr Smith said he believed the outpouring of grief and frustration on Sunday and Monday, following Firsat Yildiz's murder, had eased.

There are people of up to 50 nationalities living in the area and he said progress was being made in bringing them together.

The policeman said that although the latest victim was subject to a "bad attack" he was not seriously injured on Tuesday.

He said: "This man is clearly distressed but at the same time he is hoping others don't try to make capital of this incident."

A woman neighbour of the man said she had opened her door to the sight of him lying in the hallway outside his flat.

'Worried and scared'

Describing what happened she said: "I heard talking and then I heard crying outside. I saw the man still lying there."

The Palestinian woman, originally from Lebanon, added: "I am very much worried and scared for my daughter. What will happen, I don't know?"

Mr Smith said officers were listening to the different concerns of asylum seekers and the local people in the area.

He added: "There are a lot of people who think we have refugees on one side and locals on the other but it is clearly not like that.

"The people who have lived there for a long time don't like being called racist because the truth is the vast majority of them aren't."

Home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson reports
"Police say a number of white youths attacked the man, who's been in Glasgow for a year"
BBC Scotland's Christine McCormick reports
"He was stabbed in the back outside his home"
Julia Allan of the Scottish Refugee Council
"I think people need to be educated about the countries people are coming from"
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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