Stand up to Racism, a group on campus which proclaims to stand in solidarity against acts of racial discrimination, held a public meeting in central campus to promote racial equality on Thursday, 17 November.
The evening, hosted by the University of Edinburgh, saw speakers present their stances on the issue, urging action against all racist remarks and actions.
Dr Talat Ahmed, a lecturer of South Asian History at the University of Edinburgh, opened the evening by stating: “We’ve had a very, very chilly wind that is sweeping across the pond, in the name of ‘Trump’,
“However, acts of racism are not only empirical overseas. Domestically, there have been backlashes from the November 2015 Paris Attacks against Asian students on campus wearing headscarves, as well as from Brexit this past summer,” she continued.
Dr Ahmed also warned against the rise of the “fascist conservative right”, including Nigel Farage, Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, and Marine Le Pen, Leader of the French National Front.
She argued that their political influence has given the “green light” for racist, homophobic and sexist comments; a “problematic” situation that must be fought against.
Ruby Hirsch, a student from the University of Glasgow who works as part of the Student Solidarity Delegation to Calais, also spoke at the event. She urged the audience to support migrant rights, arguing that the UK needs to open its borders and welcome immigrants in despite of Prime Minister Theresa May’s “horrific attitude towards refugees”.
Tommy Shepard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East, echoed these views, further arguing in favour of migrant rights.
He said: “The attitude to refugees has been deplorable because of the politics that the government has pursued”. He added that such governmental behaviour “should be a source of national shame”.
The Scottish Green Party Co-convener, Maggie Chapman, then spoke on her continued commitment towards fighting fascism and racism.
Conveying the necessity of holding an anti-xenophobia stance, Chapman expressed that “change is inevitable”, but those changes that “marginalise, alienate and exclude” must be combated.
The next speaker was Tasneem Ali of the Muslim Women’s Association Center in Edinburgh. She stated: “I have never had so many women in my community talk about experiences of racism than in the past year.”
She continued: “Views highlighted by UKIP and Brexit expose the community to hate crime.”
However, she hopes for progress on the issue due to conferences and events being held in December as part of a month of targeted campaigning against Islamophobia.
The final speaker of the evening, Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer, spoke of his personal involvement in defending clients against the systematic racism intertwined within the law.
He concluded the evening by stating: “Justice and equality should be sought but is, however, not spoon-fed to those who need it, and thus must be fought for with a strong sense of will and determination.”