Edinburgh-based painter takes to social media to speak out over xenophobic abuse

Miguel, a 29-year-old painter known on social media as WG Saraband, posted a video of himself on Twitter responding to online xenophobic abuse and since has been overwhelmed by support as his message continues to gain traction.

Miguel, a 29-year-old painter known as WG Saraband.

Miguel, who wished to keep his surname private, was born in Portugal but has lived in Cramond, Edinburgh, for the past five and a half years.

He took to Twitter on Thursday to share his feelings after he received three direct messages telling him to "go back to where he came from".

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He had been out running and said that the only reason he took his phone out was to take a picture of a "beautiful snowy morning" as he was looking across the water to Fife.

Instead, he saw the abusive messages and felt a feeling of ignorance and hatred that he has become all too familiar with.

Miguel told the Edinburgh Evening News: "It's like I'm not entitled to have and express an opinion because I've only lived in Scotland for five years, but I think that even if I had lived here for two decades, they would still tell me to go home.”

While he has learned how to disassociate from the abusive messages to prevent them damaging his mental health, Miguel said that he has been to the police in the past when messages have made him uncomfortable or were, he felt, "criminal in nature".

Following that, he deletes the messages and blocks the individuals as he doesn't want that "poison" in his life.

Miguel, a 29-year-old painter known as WG Saraband.

Despite the abuse he gets, Miguel said that he thinks of himself as being in a privileged position as a white, male, European citizen.

He said: "People who were born here, people of colour, they get so much more abuse than I do.

"They get told to go home, despite this being the home they were born into.”

In response to his video, Miguel experienced a huge amount of love and compassion that he said outweighs all of the negativity.

Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey retweeted the video, saying: "Being an Edinburger isn’t an accent, it’s a privilege open to anyone who wants to make their life in this amazing city of ours.”

Scottish poet Len Pennie, known as Miss Punny Pennie, who also deals with daily online abuse for embracing the Scots language, replied saying: "I'm so sorry this happened. You'll ken this already but their bigotry doesnae represent abdy but themsels and anyone wae hauf a brain kens ye belong.

"The glottal stop in 'Scottish' is proof enough that you fit right in, honourable mention must also go tae yer use ae 'bawbags'. X"

Miguel said that as a young woman and a victim of online abuse, the poet is an excellent example of the lengths people go to to spread hatred.

He said: "I know that she knows how it feels, although in her case it's in a different way as she is not a foreigner, but it all feels the same.

"Misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia; it all feels the same.

He continued: "I've experienced homophobia and xenophobia and the feeling you get, this repulsion, this sense of unfairness, it all comes from the same place.

"Hold me to account for the stupid things I may say, not for who I am.”

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