Yousaf tells anti-racism rally: Equality ‘in the DNA’ of trade unionism

Yousaf and Anas Sarwar took part in the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s (STUC) annual St Andrew’s Day protest.

Equality ‘in the DNA’ of trade unionism, First Minister tells anti-racism rally Getty Images

Equality is “in the DNA” of trade unionism, anti-racism protesters heard from Scotland’s First Minister on Saturday.

Humza Yousaf and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar took part in the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s (STUC) annual St Andrew’s Day protest which saw marchers from all over Scotland come together at Glasgow Green, where they processed through the streets of Glasgow up to Strathclyde University.

Protesters from a number of anti-racism organisations came together in solidarity, waving their respective flags and placards while chants of “Justice for Sheku Bayoh” and “Free Palestine” echoed throughout the city.

In response to reports of fascist groups assembling throughout the country, the theme of this year’s rally is “From Erskine to Elgin: The far right is not welcome”.

After arriving at the university, Mr Yousaf denounced the “horrific examples of the mobilisation of the far right” across the world, and spoke of his family’s own experience of being racially abused following 9/11.

He said: “I remember and I suspect that Anas (Sarwar) will remember, and anybody who is Muslim, that post-9/11 life felt really difficult.

“If you had a beard, or like my sisters and my mother you wore a hijab, my sister had stones thrown at her coming off the train.

“We were called terrorists, we were asked if we were related to Bin Laden, we were part of the Taliban.

“All of that Islamophobia that we faced, I can say that post-9/11 the days and weeks, even the months after 9/11, for the first time in my life, as a teenager, I felt like Scotland, maybe, wasn’t my home.”

Mr Yousaf went on to tell those at the rally that equality is “in the DNA of the trade union movement”, adding: “I would suggest it is in the DNA of every good-minded Scot.

“Every good-minded person, and that is the vast, overwhelming majority of this country.

“And herein perhaps lies the lesson, that whichever community needs us, wherever they are in Scotland, or abroad, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

“I will always, it’s my commitment, my pledge to you, my promise to you, I will always raise my voice for those who are facing hatred, who need someone to amplify their voice, whether it’s at home, or whether it’s abroad.”

Mr Yousaf then reiterated his support for a ceasefire in Gaza, and expressed his solidarity with the family of Sheku Bayoh, telling them he hopes they get the answers they deserve.

The rally then heard from Mr Sarwar, who also gave his support for a ceasefire and to Mr Bayoh’s family.

He said that in Scotland, many people of minority ethnicities may not apply for the likes of a workplace promotion due to their skin colour, or their name, stating it is “sadly an everyday occurrence” in the country and across the world.

On a personal note, Mr Sarwar spoke of his son Adam, who at the age of 12 was bullied by a group of boys due to his race.

He said Adam was playing football with the group of boys, who were around his age, who refused to pass to him, stating this was due to him being “the only Paki in the team”.

“That was the day he discovered racism,” Mr Sarwar said.

“Honestly, I went up to my own bed that night and I wept, and I thought to myself, when I was 12 I discovered racism.

“My son is 12 and he’s discovered racism. When his son is 12, if he tells Adam that same story, my generation, our generation, will have failed.

“We have got to resolve not to let that happen.”

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