Ahmed Abdullah belongs to Glasgow
One of OBV's new and talented interns writes an impassioned plea for a Somaili refugee to be given the right to stay in the UK.
The residents of Govan and Craigton collectively claim that Ahmed Abdullah belongs to Glasgow. This is where he now calls home, his first home, in fact, since having to flee the south of Somalia, aged seven, after his father was shot by soldiers. Adding to what had already been a traumatic young life, Ahmed’s mother was then murdered in 2008 during the power struggle and particular persecution of the minority Bajuni people.
Most of Abdullah's family is now dead, but he has a sister living in the UK. Instead of finding solace with her, however, he is currently being held in Haslar Immigration Removal Centre awaiting imminent deportation to Tanzania at the hands of the British Government, whom it would appear see it fit to inflict more trauma upon this young man.
Of course, the above statement is too reductive: the seeking of asylum is a contentious issue. Britain is struggling, we know – the unemployment rate is at its highest level since 1995 and the flatlining economy is taking its toll on the labour market. We cannot allow just everyone and anyone who wishes to live in Britain to live here. You’ve heard the knee jerk remarks all too often.
But Ahmed Abdullah isn’t just anyone: he is actually a model “British” citizen. Abdullah’s life here has been about helping others. He has worked tirelessly in Govan & Craigton to help a number of charities, including: Dialogue 4 Destitution Project and the World Spirit Forum Theatre Group. He has also been volunteering with Riverside Primary School, carrying out sports activities with its pupils and coaching the football team.
As well as all of this, he has been looking after and entertaining kids in the Govan & Craigton Integration Network drop-in sessions – many of whom love him so much they call him ‘uncle’. Isabel from the network speaks of Ahmed as ‘one of the kindest, gentlest, most honest and honourable people (she has) ever met.’ Another important and moving point Isabel makes in his defense is,
He stands out as someone sensitive: who is aware of others' suffering, and is always trying to help people through difficult situations – offering support and advice wherever and whenever he can. He really hopes to be allowed to stay in the UK so that he can study and go to university; so that he can fulfill his ultimate ambition of becoming a doctor and help in this way to end or relieve people's suffering.
Ahmed’s traumatic life, the likes of which most Brits in the UK will thankfully never comprehend, shows no hate, no bitterness, just a deep sense that he can help others, and a quiet desire to live without looking over his shoulder for possible trouble.
But now Scottish Britons, including myself, are fighting for Ahmed. The AHMEDMUSTSTAY campaign is being led by Alexandra Bowie, a young Scottish artist and friend of Ahmed. As a young woman, I am aware that the region may not have the best reputation for displaying this all-embracing attitude towards others (at least as far as public perception goes south of the border), but surely, displaying it now, it should be supported by all regions. If we care to listen, Ahmed Abdullah's wisdom can reach beyond the kids he has been helping to teach us all something profound about how to live and give to others.
Great Britain prides itself on its decency and its deep rooted morality, yet these very qualities in Ahmed Abdullah are being ignored, worse: rejected. What sort of people are we: actively trying to send this decent man to a precarious life of fear; prepared not only to remind him of his childhood trauma, but to force him to relive it daily, in a country he has no association with at all?
What sort of Brits do we want to be and encourage? We need to lobby our MPs and the Home Office who make the decision to include or exclude good people.
Ahmed’s friends, the people of Glasgow, want a Britain of compassion and decency, a Britain which shelters those who have done so much to shelter us and our children over their short time here, against all the odds. They want a Britain that recognizes the good in people of any race, nationality, or background, and protects this in them for the good of us all. Ahmed Abdullah belongs to Glasgow according to Glaswegians and Scots from all over.
This is his ‘hame’.
By Sarah Hardie