A Christian family who had to flee for their lives from Pakistan are now instrumental in alerting European leaders to the suffering of minority groups in their homeland and elsewhere.
Currently living in Glasgow, brothers Sheraz and Shahid Khan have set up the Global Minorities Alliance. Chairman Sheraz said: ‘There is a lot of discrimination in Pakistan and this motivated us to set up the Alliance which condemns any kind of violence against minorities anywhere in the world.’
The Alliance website reported how – earlier this month – a mob set fire to the homes and shops of more than 100 Christians in Lahore, Eastern Pakistan. The area, called Joseph Colony, was attacked after two men who had been friends, had a disagreement. The Muslim man accused his Christian friend of ‘blasphemy.’ Under recent laws, people found guilty of blasphemy can be sentenced to life imprisonment or death. A Christian woman farm hand, Aasia Bibi has been on death row for almost five years after work colleagues accused the mother of five of blasphemy. In 2009 amid similar accusations of blasphemy, eight Christians were burnt alive in Gojra, a small town in Punjab.
Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s only Christian minister for minorities and a long-time critic of the blasphemy laws, was gunned down on 2 March 2011.
In Pakistan 97 percent of the population are Muslim with the remaining 3 percent made up of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadiyya and Parsis.
Younger brother Shahid Khan was in Germany when violence erupted in Joseph Colony. As Vice Chairman of the Alliance, he was meeting German Parliamentarians and religious leaders to alert them to the plight of minorities in his own country and in other places around the world.
He said: ‘We are deeply concerned over the continuous abuse of Pakistan blasphemy laws. We call for peace, tolerance and harmony in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world and we request President Zardari of Pakistan, to release Aasia Bibi.’
Only days after the recent violence in Lahore, Shahid met Mr Memet Kilic and Mrs Ute Granold both German Parliamentarians, and told them of the conflicts in Pakistan and elsewhere.
Both Parliamentarians expressed support for the Alliance’s call for peace, global tolerance and interfaith respect and harmony. Along with Mr Khan, they condemned the growing sectarian, religious and communal violence in Pakistan.
Later, Rabbi Daniel Alter, a representative of Berlin’s Jewish community on Interfaith Dialogue, assured Shahid Khan of his strong support of the Alliance. He invited the Alliance to apprise his community of its vision. The two men pledged to work together to promote global interfaith harmony.
The Alliance website reports on persecution of minority groups around the world: www.globalminorities.co.uk
Tuesday 5 March 2013
The body of a woman recovered from the River Clyde near Mavisbank Gardens in the city centre, is believed to be that of Yasmin McLaughlin the 46-year-old who has been missing from her Ruchill home since Friday 1 March.
A post mortem will take place to establish the exact cause of death. Strathclyde Police say there appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal. The body was recovered on Monday 4 March 2013 around 6pm.
Tuesday 26 February 2013
The race to find £2.7 million to create a Mountain Bike and Activity Centre at Cathkin Braes was launched today.
‘We already have £50,000 promised,’ said Anne McChlery, Director of Glasgow Building Preservation Trust which is behind the project. ‘It’s a big ask so late in the day, but we are confident this Centre will be ready for the Commonwealth Games next year.’
She praised the ‘synergies’ of an already popular mountain bike track being created at Cathkin Braes by Glasgow City Council and the willingness of Glasgow Archdiocese to allow a redundant, B-listed, church building to be adapted as a centre for the mountain bike activities and for local community use.
Architects responsible for the proposed transformation of St Martin’s Church are award winning Elder and Cannon who are based in Glasgow. Their feasibility study and appraisal plans were commissioned by Ardenglen Housing Association Ltd in Castlemilk.
Said architect Alison Hesketh who with colleagues Stephen Hoey and Tom Connolly has devised the plan: ‘The main challenge is to get this open for the Commonwealth Games and to accommodate a wide range of facilities. There will be a community cafe, performance space and education activities as well as mountain bike changing facilities and a bike repair workshop all contained in the church building on Cathkin Braes and all easily accessible.’
Lord Provost Sadie Docherty: ‘This is very much a community led project. I’m delighted to see this proposed Commonwealth Legacy project emerging to support the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike Track.’ She said the iconic church building had fantastic memories for many Castlemilk people who attended the Sunday discos run by the church. ‘They led to a lot of marriages…’ she added.
Councillor Archie Graham, who has Executive responsibility for the 2014 Commonwealth Games said: ‘This is a fantastic project. It builds on the challenging mountain bike course which is already well used. It promotes cycling, puts a derelict building to good community use and encourages a healthier lifestyle. We should celebrate all of that. And it comes with a panoramic view of Glasgow!’ He added: ‘Once the elite athletes have gone, there will be something tangible for everyone. I forecast that when 2019 comes and the Games are reviewed, the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike and Activity Centre will still be up there among the best legacy projects.’
Local cyclist Colin Hyslop, a member of the very active Mitchelhill Community Group which is one of the key partners driving the idea said: ‘We are getting positive feedback all the time. On Sunday, out on the Track, I could hardly get cycling for people asking me when would the Centre be ready to use? My only concern is that it won’t be big enough!’ The facebook page has already got 687 ‘likes’ and more than 2000 people use it each week to get information on cycling activities at Cathkin Braes.
On behalf of the Archdiocese, surveyor Kenneth Crilley said: ‘The church building is an architectural jewel in Castlemilk. This project will bring it back to life and allow it to be used by the wider Glasgow community. We are all delighted at the prospect.’
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, leader of Catholics in Glasgow, today called for an end to the ‘human rights scandal’ which forces asylum seekers into destitution.
He said as he signed a public petition against such forced destitution: ‘I’m sorry we have to make such efforts. They are only necessary due to the inhumane situation that is manifesting itself on our doorstep.’
When a person’s claim for asylum is refused, their accommodation and weekly allowance of around £70 is stopped. They are left homeless and with no money to feed or clothe themselves. They are forbidden to work at any time during the asylum seeking process.
Right now, Dje Bruno Masahi, is in that situation. He fled from the Ivory Coast almost two years ago when his life as a politician in the opposition party was under threat. In an emotional account of his day-to-day struggle to survive on the streets of Glasgow he said: ‘I fled my country looking for protection because my life was in danger. I did not get protection and now it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive.
‘It’s not just me – asylum seekers across Scotland are suffering. Something needs to be done about this situation.’
Recent research by Caledonian University showed that hundreds of people are made destitute by the UK Government’s policy. Some couch surf with friends. But another asylum seeker whose case is in process, can find their case is put in jeopardy if they house a destitute friend.
The night shelter for destitute asylum seekers in Glasgow is usually full. And the City Mission’s rough sleepers’ shelter – which has just opened for the winter – is expected to allow destitute asylum seekers in now, too. It is aimed at people who live rough on the streets of Glasgow.
Said Archbishop Tartaglia, who is also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland: ‘This Christmas, I have a particular concern for people in our own backyard who may be forced to shelter under a bridge in freezing conditions, in a doorway or on a cold floor – because they have been made compulsorily destitute.’
He has put out an appeal to those ‘in positions of civil authority’ to ease this suffering by allowing people the ‘basic human requirements of shelter and sustenance.’
Gary Christie, Head of Policy at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: ‘We are calling on the UK Government to provide basic support to all asylum seekers until they are given the right to remain here or until they leave this country.’
Eileen Baxendale, Chair of Refugee Survival Trust said: ‘It is unacceptable to leave people hungry and homeless on the streets of our cities.’
Almost 1500 people have signed the Stop Destitution petition in postcard format which the Archbishop signed. The postcards will be sent to the UK Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean. He took over from Damian Green MP in September. More than 20 organisations have also pledged support including, Amnesty International, Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland.
Details of what people can do to stop enforced destitution can be found on the website: www.stopdestitution.org.uk under LEARN. And the petition is there for those who wish to sign it. Caledonian University’s full survey and a summary, are also online there.
Carers in Glasgow are banding together to challenge the city’s plan to cut day care services dramatically.
They are making official complaints to the Care Inspectorate – the body in Scotland responsible for overseeing care provision. And some individuals are actively considering legal action.
At a well-attended meeting of carers, care service users and workers and a variety of groups campaigning on care and personalisation issues, everyone was agreed – Glasgow City Council has got it wrong.
Said Brian Smith, Branch Secretary of Glasgow City UNISON trades union branch, who chaired the meeting: ‘These proposed changes have been implemented poorly and are being planned in order to make financial cuts. The people concerned have not got a voice.’
Currently three out of seven day centres used by people with a wide variety of learning difficulties and special needs, are to be closed by Glasgow City Council. They are – Berryknowes, Summerston and Hinshaw Street. Those remaining open will be – Riddrie, Carlton, the Wedge and Southbrae.
The Council estimates that around 200 people with the most complex disabilities would continue to be supported by the four day centres staying open. A further 320 people could be successfully supported within the community suggests the Council.
But people at the meeting said the figures didn’t stack up and that the people attending such day centres would suffer real trauma if their regular place was closed. Said one mother whose adult daughter attended a day centre that has already been closed: ‘The alternative suggested was not suitable for my daughter and the transport wasn’t sensible. She’s stayed at home with me. Now we’re both tearing our hair out. The only place we can go is a church hall one day a week where she has nothing to do and gets sandwiches and crisps for lunch for £5. Is that quality care?.’
Another mother in her pension years said: ‘There is nothing in our community centre to do on a daily basis. We’re left with shopping centres and libraries. But my son’s needs are so complex he can’t read a book. I’d like to invite Councillors to come and share my life for 24 hours to see what it is really like.’
Consultation on the major reforms planned by the Council, is under way with a deadline of 7 January 2013 for the submission of responses. These should go to Linda Gunn, Senior Officer, Adult Services, Centenary House, 100 Morrison Street, Glasgow G5 8 LN. or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council plans to present the proposals and responses from the consultation to its Executive Committee on 24 January 2013, with the City’s Policy and Development Committee considering the issues the day before – January 23. However, both Committees are likely to be heavily lobbied and a campaign group of carers will also meet on 14 January 2013 at 10.30am in the Adelphi Centre, Gorbals, G5.
All families concerned in the changes were strongly advised to answer the questionnaire that some people have received as part of the consultation. ‘But be warned, the questions are flawed,’ said Ian Hood, Coordinator of the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland.
UNISON’s Brian Smith said the entire process was flawed. ‘The consultation is based on a plan that already predicts 55% of care service jobs will be lost and that the service provided will be based on 200 service users. Right now there are 520 service users.’
Later, a Glasgow City Council spokesman said: ‘We are listening to the view of all stakeholders. People are entitled to comment now. The Council will wait and see what views are expressed before coming to a conclusion.’
A six week project by Ignite Theatre in Knightswood, resulted in an excellent theatre afternoon in Wellington Church Crypt Cafe recently. Entitled ‘A Cake and a Comedy’ the seven sketches, written and acted by the five members of the cast told of human relationships through food.
The creative work was cooked up at the Cookery School and through waiter training at The Buttery in Argyle Street. All the young people – from school age to early 20s – gave engaging and convincing performances.
These ranged from the exchange between a street beggar and a passer-by to parent and child perceptions of Santa’s tidbits and from the gauche beginnings of a romance to the misconceptions of different cultural ways. All the playlets were written by the young people and reflected their own experiences and perceptions and misperceptions where different cultures collide. An appreciative audience enjoyed the cafe atmosphere, the cakes and the coffee as well as the performances.
Ignite’s Artistic Director Aileen Ritchie, has been running a series of free drama workshops for young people aged from 8 to 21 from different cultural backgrounds, for more than two years.
She said: ‘We have been touring this show to audiences who might not get to see live theatre – from pensioners’ lunch clubs to local primary schools. The cast have been extremely professional and I think their creativity shines in this funny and life affirming festive show. We are hoping the valuable work experience it has given them will lead to more opportunities.’
Actor Karen Chanda (18) said she found the workshops fun. ‘They build your confidence. You meet new people and make lots of friends. And we’ve built up strong relationships through working together on this project.’
The cafe theatre programme started with ‘Seeds of Thought’ poet and musician Tawona Sitole playing the mbira, a metal, thumb piano from Zimbabwe. The young actors were in working mode as waiters at the Buttery on Sunday 2 December when a full afternoon tea with a string quartet was on offer for donations for Ignite’s work. The previous day, a juniors’ show called Magic Dust and Christmas at the Zoo was performed in Knightswood Congregational Church Hall, 12 Dunterlie Avenue, Glasgow, G13 3BA. Ignite Theatre also performed A Cake and A Comedy.
Funding for Ignite from the Equality and Human Rights Commission ends in December. Children in Need are expected to take over as the main funder after that.
Skaters have from now till 6 January 2013 to enjoy Glasgow on Ice, the stunning centre piece of the Glasgow Loves Christmas festival.
Around 210,000 litres of water were used to form the six inches of ice. It took 90 hours to freeze it completely to form the 736 square metres to skate on.
Last year more than 50,000 people used the outdoor rink around the Scott Monument in the centre of George Square and even more are expected this year.
For the first time students get half price on Mondays. Parents with children up to the age of seven, can use the Penguin Sessions which allows them to skate while pushing their youngsters in specially designed pods like penguins. Prices range from £4 for Young Scot card holders to £10 for adults at peak times.
The Magical Entertainment Marquee will have a free programme every night ranging from festive films and Christmas choirs to big band concerts and comedy spots as well as quizzes.
Free family fun days will be on offer each weekend. So far the entertainment line up has included – Cami followed by Jake Beveridge, Irrational Fever, Michael Cassidy and A Band Called Quinn. But there are musical treats most nights so check the website.
Said Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council: ‘The city simply buzzes with excitement thanks to all the attractions, events and family entertainment. And, of course, there is the chance to skate under the stars in George Square. I invite everyone to come and join us for some Festive Cheer.’
Clyde 1 In: Demand presenter Romeo said: ‘I love Glasgow on Ice. It’s such a good laugh and the Square looks beautiful. I feel like I’m on a movie set in New York.’ He was put through his paces by Scottish figure skating champion, Simone Golumb
For more info on Glasgow Loves Christmas consult the website: “http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com” or www.glasgowloveschristmas.com or Facebook
Mildred Black at 76 remembers past skaing times as she glides along.
In advance of Prisoners’ Week (from 18 to 25 November) Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the newly appointed Archbishop of Glasgow, visited Barlinnie Prison.
One of the first pastoral visits in his new role, he toured the facility and said Mass for the prisoners. He said later:’What I have seen here suggests strongly that, as well as security and discipline, concern and care for the well-being of prisoners is a guiding principle of how this facility is run.’
In his address to inmates he asked prisoners to find courage to face up to their wrong-doing. ‘God loves each one of us unconditionally and, if we truly ask forgiveness for what we have done wrong, the Lord will surely forgive us,’ said the Archbishop. ‘Of course, we cannot be naïve: we know our sins and crimes can hurt other people and the community too. When that happens we have to make up for that too. Sometimes human justice, which is never perfect, rules that we must lose our freedom for a time, and that is truly a sore punishment. We have to hope, indeed society has to ensure, that that punishment is not cruel or inhuman, but respects human dignity and helps prisoners to leave prison as responsible members of society, while at the same time promoting restitution to victims and to society at large.’
Following the theme of Prisoners’ Week the Archbishop emphasised that Christ made the outcasts of society his special concern.
Maryhill Integration Network’s dance piece ‘Lullaby Spirit’ is one of the events to be seen in
DOCUMENT – the ten day festival on human rights issues in Glasgow starting on Friday 19 October.
The beautifully choreographed piece by Natasha Gilmore, centres on sleep and is interpreted by people from around the world who have arrived in Maryhill for a multitude of different reasons. Those different reasons are seen and understood even without one word being spoken. Produced by award winning author Remzije Sherifi, the dance is skilfully shown by adults and children who are touching on their own experiences.
That is just one of the stunning events and 85 films on offer at DOCUMENT which celebrates its tenth year now.
Another local contribution will be the special screening of ‘Roma of Govanhill’ with a guest audience of Govanhill residents.
Most of the films and events take place at the Centre of Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Charing Cross end of Sauchiehall Street but some are scheduled for Glasgow University’s Gilmorehill Centre at the foot of University Avenue near Kelvin Way.
Festival Director Mona Rai said: “A visit to DOCUMENT Film Festival is like time-travelling through a decade of world events from the comfort of an armchair.”
A special award presented by an international jury has been created for the best film. In the form of a glass sculpture featuring Glasgow’s Duke of Wellington statue, complete with his famous traffic cone ‘hat’, it will be handed over during the final gala night on Sunday 28 October in the CCA. The winner will be one of the 11 films which have already won a category at the Festival. All of them will be screened in Glasgow. On the same evening Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh will receive the Festival’s DOCUMENT Lifetime Achievement Award. His films explore the state of Cambodia in the aftermath of years of genocide.
Other events include ‘Harry Horseplay’ a tribute to cartoonist and social commentator Harry Horse performed by actor Tam Dean Burn.
The festival programme will also feature a debate on Israel and Palestine, with a screening of films made by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, in association with The Guardian newspaper.
Other film highlights include ‘The Redemption of General Butt Naked’, about former Liberian warlord Joshua Milton Blahyi who reinvents himself as a Christian evangelist preacher.
‘The Sisterhood’ tells the story of Hope, Rollie and Pietie, South African vineyard workers and drag queens.
Full details can be found at http://documentfilmfestival.org/doc10/
All screenings are free for OAPS and asylum seekers / refugees. Since visiting international film directors from Germany, Poland, Italy, South America and elsewhere will be attending DOCUMENT is a Festival where there is a lot going on. Don’t miss it! See their website: www.documentfilmfestival.org
A new era has started for Community Central Hall (CCH) in Maryhill Road. The Trust which runs it has been gifted the building by Glasgow City Council.
City Treasurer, Councillor Paul Rooney made the announcement today (Thursday 27 September 2012) during 35rd anniversary celebrations of the popular venue. He said: ‘I’m delighted to be part of the decision to transfer the premises to CCH. The City Council will only do this where best practice is clearly seen and good management has an identifiable track record.’
He added: ‘This place is well known for the public inquiries – such as Stockline – held here. But it has an amazing level of users, workers and volunteers.’
Anna Dyer, Chairperson of the Trust Board which runs CCH, thanked Treasurer Rooney and said: ‘We have a new future to look forward to now because we can access more funding. This will keep the building in community use for future generations.’ She paid tribute to John Gray who, as a Strathclyde Regional Councillor more than 35 years ago, fought to retain the former church for the community.
At an evening reception for members and supporters of CCH Anna presented John with a silver salver to recognise his foresight and his fight.
A clearly delighted John told this website: ‘We were ecstatic 35 years ago when we got possession of the halls. There was a lot of support and a good committee. When the caretaker Jimmy Gordon handed over the big bunch of keys he said all the furniture had been taken away. I discovered the Council had a store full of furniture and got permission to take what we needed. With the Boys’ Brigade, the committee and a whole team of helpers, we made a lot to trips back and forward with two vans till we furnished the place.’ He said the first thing the committee did was double the wages of the caretaker.
An exhibition of past times and community activities is on display in the CCH. Built by subscription in the 1920s, it was used as a church until it became a Community Trust and registered charity 35 years ago.
The anniversary celebrations included a pacey variety concert hosted by Dave Anderson. ‘This is a fantastic facility,’ he told the audience in the Reid Hall. ‘I’ve been using it since I was a boy.’ Entertainment included a toe-tapping routine by pupils of LA Stage School which is one of the newest groups to make CCH their home. Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) provided two splendid sets. First up was a dance and music piece with adults and children singing lullabies from around the world. Later they gave a fashion show with the models dressed in beautiful outfits reflecting ethnic and antique costumes from a wide variety of countries sometimes re-interpreted to show the fusion of cultures.
The world’s longest running Scouts’ Gang Show – the Glasgow Gang Show – gave a harmonious preview of their own show which takes place in November. ‘We’ve been rehearsing in the CCH for 15 years because the facilities are so good,’ said their spokesman.
A seven strong Gospel choir with accompanying drummer from the Redeemed Christian Church of God which worships in the CCH, gave a non-stop praise session which had the power and the conviction of ten times their number.
Commented Dave Anderson at the end of their set: ‘That’s a far cry from the joyless Presbyterian church style I grew up in!’
As the night wore on and the audience decreased, the second half of the show moved to the CCH cafe. The stalwarts who remained had a brilliant treat from Dave Anderson himself. He played keyboard and sang to give a humorous insight into his own musical upbringing. ‘A song I wrote years ago is currently included in ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ thanks to Elaine C Smith remembering it,’ he told the appreciative audience as he sang it for them. With wit and humour, he brought the anniversary event to a happy close.
Friday 28 September was day two of the 35th anniversary celebrations with a children’s fun day complete with a real fire engine and a play bus, a community exhibition in the CCH and dancing to the Black Havana Diamond Band in the evening.