Neighbours rush to street to block Home Office from removing Muslim immigrants on Eid

Crowds surround enforcement van in stand-off with police

Jane Dalton@JournoJane
Thursday 13 May 2021 20:24
comments

Protesters block van removing Muslim immigrants in Glasgow

Hundreds of residents have surrounded a Border Agency van in Glasgow to try to prevent immigration officers from removing two neighbours.

Crowds surrounded a Border Force van with the two Muslim men inside and one person lay underneath it, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to accuse the Home Office of creating "a dangerous and unacceptable situation".

Three protesters were arrested, according to the No Evictions Network campaign group.

The stand-off began early on Thursday, the Muslim holiday of Eid, when officials arrived in Kenmure Street. People living nearby surrounded the van, chanting: “Leave our neighbours, let them go”.

Of the estimated 300 people, some sat in the street to block the van in a stand-off with dozens of police officers.

Ms Sturgeon said her office was making urgent enquiries and stood “ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained”.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary and MSP for Glasgow Pollok Humza Yousaf asked to speak to home secretary Priti Patel about the events.

He tweeted: “This UK Border Force Operation, in Polloksheilds, the heart of the Muslim community, on Eid is a demonstration of the UK Govt’s hostile environment.

“I have asked to speak to the Home Secretary to gain further details & make clear just how unacceptable this situation is.”

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said the two people detained were Muslim and had come from war-torn countries.

“We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state,” he said.

“And it’s on Eid, you know... the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”

Sophie, of No Evictions Network, who did not want to give her second name, told The Independent the two men from the same address had had no chance to eat, drink or use the toilet since being put in the van around 9.30am.

“We just don’t agree anyone should be forcibly removed from their homes under any circumstances,” she said. “Their neighbours clearly care about them.”

She added that although the protest was effectively stopping the men getting access to facilities, they did not agree with the alternative – the men going to an immigration detention centre.

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss said the situation was “absolutely awful” but that she was heartened to see local residents in Pollokshields “standing up for their neighbours and refusing to accept the brutality of the Home Office”.

She said she would be taking the matter up with ministers.

Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, tweeted it was “shocking, disgraceful and racist” if houses were raided amid the pandemic, and during Eid.

One neighbour who joined the protest, said: “The solidarity shown today shows the community will not stand for their neighbours being dragged from their homes.

“I’d ask Christians to reflect on what it would feel like to have your house raided on Christmas Day.”

He said the police presence increased rapidly, with 10 vans at the scene at around midday.

The Independent has asked the Home Office to comment.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Around 9.55am this morning, police were called to an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, following a protest by a large group of people.

“The call was made by UK Immigration Enforcement (UKIE) after a group of protesters gathered at the address where UKIE staff were in attendance.

“Police Scotland does not assist in the removal of asylum-seekers. Officers are at the scene to police the protest and to ensure public safety.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments