Sighthill: 'These people will kill again. Is it really any better here than Iran?'

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The Independent Online

Davoud lifted his shirt to reveal a long rectangle of white gauze through which a thin sliver of blood was seeping. The crimson trail betrayed a hidden line of stitches inserted by doctors in knife-slashed skin.

"The three men were shouting 'black bastard'," said Davoud, 22, an Iranian asylum-seeker. He was reliving an attack on Wednesday night which took place on the doorstep of his seventh-floor flat, on Glasgow's notorious Sighthill estate, just two days after the murder on the estate of another 22-year-old, Firsat Yildiz, a Turkish Kurd. "I was putting my rubbish out," said Davoud. "The men attacked me from behind. And suddenly one slashed with a knife."

Davoud knows he was lucky compared to Mr Yildiz, who was stabbed to death during an apparently unprovoked attack by two white men as he walked in darkness the two miles north from the city centre into Sighthill, a bleak grouping of 20 19-storey blocks. Davoud was only saved from further injury by the arrival of other refugees, drawn by the noise. Police are still seeking the attackers.

"In my own country I have trouble with the police and the government," said Davoud, who refused to give his full name and whose name has not been released by police. "But is it really any better here? In Iran if they kill me it will be to my face, not an attack from behind.

"We must all leave here," he said. "In a few months these people will kill again."

It has been three months since Sighthill first hit the headlines following a spate of brutal racial attacks on asylum-seekers. Flats on the poverty-ridden estate, plagued by crime and drug abuse, had been hard to let before 1,200 asylum-seekers arrived from London and the South-east to join the 5,000 Glaswegians already marooned in the tower blocks as part of the Government's dispersal policy.

Tensions were there from the start and eventually gave way to vicious racial assaults. "It is more about envy than racism," said Charlie Riddell, a local tenants' association representative.

"People in Sighthill are poor, neglected and uneducated and they were not prepared by the council or the Government for the arrival of so many asylum-seekers. They believe the refugees are getting a better deal."

Since May, only the police, said Mr Riddell, can take any credit for the return of an uneasy peace. The council and its asylum-support team had done little more than talk. "Local people need jobs, regeneration, something to live for," he said, adding that complacency was to blame for this week's clashes between locals and refugees in the aftermath of Mr Yildiz's murder.

Yesterday the most militant locals – from sallow teenage boys to hard-faced middle-aged women – huddled on tower block corners, complaining to journalists that the asylum-seekers were raking it in while they could not even get their repairs done.

Even the local junkies, usually the most detested group in communities like this, seem to feel entitled to look down on asylum-seekers. "Got nothing against them personally," said a man emerging from a notorious local flat, skeletal, sunken-cheeked and hollow-eyed. "But they should do what they do in Canada – check them for diseases before they let them in."

According to Kadar Anwar, a Kurdish neighbour of Davoud's, the intimidation never really went away. "Every night groups of 10 or 15 Scottish men are waiting for me coming home from work," he said. "Sometimes my shift ends at 4am and still they are waiting for me."

Mr Anwar, like other Kurds, is angry at some of the press coverage of Mr Yildiz's murder. Most papers yesterday covered the confusion over Mr Yildiz's true identity and whether he was a political or economic refugee. But the Daily Record devoted its front page to dispelling "the myth" that Mr Yildiz was an asylum-seeker. It claimed his real name was Firsat Dag and that he was a fruit and vegetable trader making a false claim for political asylum so he could enjoy the "British lifestyle". The paper declared Mr Yildiz "a conman who came to this country to make a fast buck".

Mr Riddell said mainstream politicians who made pre-election capital out of the asylum issue, are as much to blame for the violence in Sighthill as some sections of the media. Those politicians ought to visit Sanoor, trapped and terrified in one of Sighthill's high towers.

Sanoor, 32, fled Iran a year ago with her four-year-old son to escape political persecution. She had spent the previous eight months in hiding. Her husband paid £7,000 to an agent to take her to safety to Britain. Sanoor's husband promised to follow her. "He has yet to arrive," she said. "I have heard nothing of him for a year and neither have my family in Iran though sometimes I think they know something but are afraid to tell me."

What she seems to struggle with most is the local lack of understanding for what she and her son have been through. "What I ask people like you is why Scottish people are doing this to us? Everyone told me Scots were warm and nice but all we got was stones, abuse, and attacks," she said. "Every time we see a little crowd gathering, my son and I take the long way home. My son asks who will kill us, what is our sin?

"Last night, after Davoud was stabbed, we slept at our neighbour's home because I was too scared to sleep alone."

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