Published on Sunday, 02 December 2012 22:13 Written by Malcolm Burns
A powerful call for an end to complacency in the face of rising hate crime went out from the Scottish TUC's annual St Andrew's Day rally against racism and fascism on Saturday 24 November.
On a bright but cold November morning up to two thousand people joined a colourful and noisy march through the city from Glasgow, lead by the SheBoom drumming group, brass and pipe bands, and trade union and political banners, before the rally at Glasgow Film Theatre.
Parveen Khan, chair of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) told the rally in Glasgow: "Good words are not enough. We call on politicians, government and public sector organisation to take real action against racism."
Challenging the leaders of Scotland's main political parties, who had not been on the march, Khan said: "They are only too willing to say the right thing in the STUC programme for today's march and rally.
"There is much talk of how far we have come in our fight against racism. Such words may provide some with reassurance, hope and belief for a better future but for some of us it is not enough."
Khan added: "Every day we see and experience racism and racist attacks. There were 6,622 racially motivated crimes in 2011-12, an increase of 10%. That is 18 each day.
"Political figures step up to say this is because people now have confidence to report these attacks. I don't care: 18 incidents every day is 18 too many."
The rally was also addressed by two of only three minority ethnic women councillors in Scotland.
Dumfries and Galloway SNP councillor Yen Hongmie Jin said: "Scotland is a beautiful country, most importantly in people's hearts. However a long history of racism exists here too, which is unacceptable in any form."
Shamin Akhtar, a Labour councillor in East Lothian, said the coalition government's repressive measures were hitting the most vulnerable worst, including black and minority ethnic communities.
"There is lots of poverty and inequality," she said. "We need the support of the public sector like never before."