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Syrian refugee stabbed in 'racially-motivated' attack in Edinburgh

Pro-refugee protest planned as well-wishers raise almost £4,000 in crowdfunding campaign 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 07 May 2018 16:49 BST
Shahbaz Ali, 25, was attacked in a council-run hostel
Shahbaz Ali, 25, was attacked in a council-run hostel (Getty)

A teenage boy has been charged with stabbing a Syrian refugee in a suspected racially-motivated attack in Scotland.

Shahbaz Ali, 25, fled his home country with his family five years ago and had been housed in a council-run hostel in Edinburgh.

Police said he was attacked at the property in Upper Gilmore Place shortly after midnight on Thursday and remains in a serious condition in hospital.

“A 17-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with this incident and appeared before Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday,” a spokesperson for Police Scotland added.

The Independent understands the stabbing is being treated as having a racial element.

Detectives continue to appeal for information on the incident, which campaigners said involved a group of two women and two men.

Robina Qureshi, of the Positive Action in Housing charity, said Mr Ali had intervened on behalf of his young female cousin who lives in the same hostel when he was stabbed multiple times.

His father, who was on the phone to his son at the time, claimed he heard someone shout: “Why are you still here, why are you not back in your own country?”

The attack on Mr Ali, who was working as a barber in the Portobello district, drove well-wishers to set up a crowdfunding page to “help him recover and rebuild his life in Scotland”.

The campaign has raised almost £4,000 so far and a pro-refugee protest is due to be held in Edinburgh on Thursday.

Stand Up To Racism said the demonstration was called to protest the attack on Mr Ali and “say refugees and migrants are welcome here”.

“Edinburgh is a multicultural city with different communities living side by side; however, people are too often being encouraged to turn on each other to explain deprivation and lack of resources,” organisers said.

“We have to fight for unity and not let racism divide people.”

Scottish authorities pledged to provide homes for 2,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 and met its target three years ahead of schedule in December.

Sabir Zazai, chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Scotland is home to many people fleeing conflict and human rights violations around the world and this attack will not undermine our peaceful coexistence and legacy of a welcoming nation.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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