SCOTLAND must send a strong message of welcome to Syrian refugees and challenge racist attitudes in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Scottish Labour leader has said.
Kezia Dugdale called on communities and individuals to stand up to intolerance and bigotry after a surge in hate crimes following the terror attacks in the French capital.
We need to do more to support refugees at home and abroad.”
She was speaking before attending the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)’s annual St Andrew’s Day march and rally in Glasgow.
Refugees who have made Scotland their home are due to speak at the event, which this year has the theme No Racism: Refugees Welcome Here.
Ms Dugdale said: “By marching through the streets of Glasgow today we can send a strong message to those who have made their way here from afar in search of a better life.
“We can let refugees fleeing civil war and terrorism in Syria know that they are welcome here and will find the hand of friendship in Scotland.
“We must never accept intolerance or bigotry of any kind. The dark days of turning a blind eye to casual racism can’t ever be allowed to return. It’s the job of everybody in our communities to stand up to those who are intolerant of others.
“For some the response to the awful terror attacks in Paris is to close the borders and turn our backs on those from outside our country. That would be the wrong response because it’s exactly what the terrorists want us to do.
“Those who attacked Paris want to fundamentally change who we are as a society. We cannot let them win.”
Speaking in advance of the event, STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “With a humanitarian tragedy unfolding, it seems appropriate to use the annual anti-racist St Andrew’s Day march and rally to send a clear message that Scotland welcomes refugees and that we are ready to provide space in our country for all those who need it.
“We need to do more to support refugees at home and abroad. We must also challenge racist attitudes that exist in our community and in our workplaces.
“The violence directed against Scotland’s Muslim community after the Paris attacks shows just how much work still needs to be done.”
The march will assemble at Glasgow Green before setting off at 11am through the city centre to a rally at Glasgow Film Theatre at 12pm.