Shabana Naz: Building the bridge of unity for Scottish Asians

IT WAS 1972 when my father first stepped on to the tarmac of London Heathrow Airport direct from Islamabad.

That same summer, the world was gripped by the tragic events unfolding at the Munich Olympics. Forty years later, the world was as equally gripped by this summer’s London Olympic Games. This time, however, it was the sheer celebration of life that kept everyone on the edge of their seats. It was the motto to “Inspire a Generation” that particularly moved me and indeed the sentiment inspired me to start a new magazine for a new generation of Scottish Asians called ID.

Much has changed for the Scottish Asian since my father first drove up the M6 to Scotland. This first generation worked tirelessly to make a life, not just for themselves, but also for the family they left behind in their homeland.

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Whilst this issue is no longer a burden on the second and third generation of Scottish Asians today, our modern fast-paced world presents a whole host of other issues, such as their integration and acceptance within the wider community.

This has given rise to an identity crisis questioning whether we are truly Scottish or truly Asian. It was my intention with ID to try and bridge the gap between the old and the new, by celebrating both the Scottish and Asian cultures and raising the issues which are most prevalent in 
the lives of the new cross-cultured 

I became actively involved in media in 1996 when, along with a few friends, I co-founded the only full-time Scottish Asian radio station. It was obvious there was a need to have a permanent medium that caters for the Asian community as a whole in Scotland. England had various radio stations, magazines and even local television channels which catered for the large ethnic communities there.

As a result of this, I realised the Scottish Asians needed, and indeed wanted to have a form of media to represent them too. Consequently in 2003, the first Scottish national Asian newspaper was founded. This was my first venture into print ­media, and the community gave it a warm welcome and overwhelming response.

The success of this venture was obvious and resulted in it running successfully for nine years. After so many years, however, a change of direction was needed. Scotland’s Asian community was, once again, ready for something new and innovative. They had moved on from the “back home” mindset, and expected something new to further extend the bridge of unity they ­began building when they first arrived in the UK. The Asian community now wanted something that was going to express and represent their love and allegiance to their new homeland, and at the same time celebrate their roots.

The ID magazine was born last month, with that very sentiment at the heart of its purpose. ID has set out to bring together both its Scottish and Asian roots by ­integrating knowledge and understanding 
of not just our respective religions, but also our culture, language and love for Scotland.

Even though the first settlers from Asia arrived in the UK more than 40 years ago and have very much become an integral and, indeed, blended component of Scottish society, their relationship with their homeland is still as strongly bonded as it was when they first arrived here. The Scottish Asian community needed a voice that spoke both languages without diluting what still remains ingrained in their hearts and minds.

ID has set a mission for itself which is to highlight and discuss matters that are prevalent not only in today’s society in general but, in particular, to bring forward the issues this third generation, even after so many years, continues to face.

Do we still have an identity crisis, or 
has the community still not managed to fully relate to the culture difference? Have they managed to now become 
Scottish Asians?

The magazine will also be looking to educate those from both sides about each other’s religion and culture, which is possibly the most difficult task due to so much negative media portrayal of all religions in today’s society.

The ID seeks to educate, and be educated, and become a multi-cultural knowledge tool for both the Scottish and Asian communities in Scotland. ID hopes to promote not only Eastern and Western culture, but what they have to offer each other. ID is set to become the true identity of the Scottish Asian. «

• Issue two of ID Scotland is out this week.