Syrian refugees are trying to lead normal lives in Scotland and the Daily Mail isn't happy about it

Syrian refugees are trying to lead normal lives in Scotland and the Daily Mail isn't happy about it

It might not surprise you to learn that something the Daily Mail published today is a) full of factual errors and b) stoking xenophobia.

The two-page story 'Why are refugees being sent to a Scottish island with high poverty?' asks why 15 families have been relocated to Bute, which - like the rest of country - is facing austerity cuts.

'Why are Syrian refugees being foisted on a remote Scottish island with high unemployment and poverty - then given perks some locals don't enjoy?' the Mail asks.

Never mind the fact that refugee resettlement is being carried out on an entirely voluntary basis by local authorities who wish to help, or that all funding for these families comes from central government rather than out of the council's pocket.

What the Mail really seems to be unable to get over is that these families are being allowed to experience normal life again after five years of war.

Families were given free accommodation and can pray five times a day.

The 'perks some locals don't enjoy' include what appear to be basic gestures of hospitality:

A local supermarket has promised to sell halal meat from animals slaughtered according to rules set out in the Koran.

A charity musical evening has raised funds to buy new mobile phones for the migrants... Some disgruntled locals have been quick to point out that they have to make do with older models.

And God forbid that their children play with toys.

Meanwhile, eyebrows are being raised over the fact that Roman Catholic St Andrew’s church hall, in Rothesay town centre, is being used as a day centre... Here, children park their sparkling new bikes, play with donated toys.

Or that people who've been living in tents and makeshift accommodation after fleeing their own homes be offered new homes to rebuild their lives in.

The Syrians have been given free homes with new kitchens, carpets and washing machines.

Or practise their right to freedom of religion.

...nothing is too much trouble. A specially appointed imam is to be ferried from Glasgow each week to lead Friday prayers.


The Mail also says "tensions are growing" between the newcomers and long-time residents.

One of the concrete bits of 'evidence' supporting this is the following anecdote:

Wobbling on new red bicycles, three excited Syrian boys pedal the wrong direction along a one-way street in this very wet outpost of the British Isles. They are unaware they’re breaking the law because they can’t speak a word of English and certainly don’t know of the existence of the Highway Code.

While the Daily Mail appears to have forgotten the Christian creed 'love thy neighbour', Scotland's attitude is much healthier: the country is the new home of about one third of the Syrian refugees who have arrived in the UK so far.

Forty councils across the country are understood to have offered to take in the new arrivals.

Around 1,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the UK in the last few months, meeting David Cameron's pledge to take in a thousand vulnerable people from refugee camps in the Middle East by the end of 2015, and 20,000 over the next year.

More: The crucial people missing from the Syria peace talks: women

More: Four things the UK should be doing to help the refugee crisis, according to NGOs

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