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Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 18:14 GMT
Holocaust Day 'a wake up call'
Holocaust Victims
Events mark the 57th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
On National Holocaust Rememberance Day, the Scottish secretary warns of the evils of racism, writes Mike Lloyd.

Scotland's once proud record as a racially tolerant country has been undermined in recent years.

Claims of institutional racism in the courts, and the police combine with TV shots of abused asylum seekers and Hitler salutes on the terraces, to paint a picture of a country infected with prejudice and bigotry.

Scotland is scarcely Nazi Germany, but the consequences of complacency about racism are being brought home, at National Holocaust Day in Glasgow.

Helen Liddell
Helen Liddell: "Ensure crimes are never repeated"
Scottish Secretary, Helen Liddell, said the day "provides a vital focus for seeing the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust and to learn lessons for the future."

The ceremony, in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall, is Scotland's contribution to the national day of remembrance, instituted by Prime Minister Tony Blair two years ago.

Mrs Liddell said: "The establishment of an annual Holocaust Memorial Day by the Government demonstrates our commitment to opposing anti semitism, racism and intolerance in any form.

"The remembrance is now all the more poignant given that the world has again been shaken by intolerance and evil.

"We must ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation committed during the Holocaust are neither forgotten nor repeated."

Rev Ernest Levy
Ernest Levy survived the Holocaust

Gurbux Singh, Chairman for the Commission for Racial Equality says it's a chance to stop, think and remember.

"Sadly in this new century, racism is still alive in Britain. Hate crimes still happen."

"Our task now is to make sure we do not become a society pitted against each other."

Alastair McDonald, of Edinburgh University's Centre for Human Ecology has researched Scottish racism and says it can flourish here as easily as anywhere.

"We have a tradition of welcoming people from other races and cultures in Scotland, but some of us also have attitudes, stemming from the time of the Empire, that we are superior to other races."

Mr McDonald carried out 27 focus groups amongst the ethnic minorities, for his recent report, "Who's a real Scot?" and found all of them had experienced racial harassment.

He says we have to accept a definition of 'Scottishness', which has nothing to do with skin colour.

Lessons from history

The Holocaust Memorial Day events put the emphasis on warning young Scots of the dangers.

Many of the performers, such as Scottish Youth Dance, and the Glasgow Schools Chorus are young.

Holocaust Survivor, Rev Ernest Levy, recalls the Nazi mass murders, with an extract from his book, 'Just One More Dance' and there are readings about racial slaughter, in countries like Bosnia and Cambodia.

Other events include a film about the death camps and an exhibition to educate schoolchildren in the horrors of genocide, at Glasgow's Tramway Theatre.

The Concert Hall ceremony will culminate in the lighting of candles during the reading of the 'Statement of Commitment', by actor, David Hayman.

The 'Statement ' reminds us all, that we have duty to act against racists and racism.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Duncan Kirkhope reports
"Candles were lit by survivors"
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