Peaceful anti-racism march to go ahead in Leith

The event will begin at Pilrig Park. Picture; Julie Bell

The event will begin at Pilrig Park. Picture; Julie Bell

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A peaceful anti-racism march will be held tomorrow afternoon in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city.

The two-hour event was organised after Nazi symbols - including the swastika - and racist slogans started to appear on road signs around Leith following the Brexit vote.

Views around Pilrig. Pilrig Park. Picture; Julie Bell

Views around Pilrig. Pilrig Park. Picture; Julie Bell

The ‘United Colours Of Leith’, which is intended to show that togetherness in the face of prejudice, has the backing of Hibs and Police Scotland.

And up to 1,000 people are expected to march from Pilrig Park along Leith Walk, culminating in a rally on Leith Links tomorrow afternoon.

The event has “cross-party and interfaith support”, with expressions of solidarity from “many Leith businesses and community groups”.

Among the organisers are advertising guru and Evening News columnist Gerry Farrell, his Hungarian wife Zsuzsa and Nick Gardner who is involved in a “personal capacity” not as a local councillor.

Gerry said the march was in response to a spike in racist behaviour after the British people voted to leave the EU.

“The last place we expected to see this was in Leith, one of the most multi-ethnic and tolerant communities in Scotland,” he said.

“But two days later, stickers with Nazi symbols and racist language began appearing on road signs around Leith and in the Kirkgate shopping centre at the foot of Leith Walk.

“Any organization that threatens some of us, threatens all of us. We need to stick up for each other and show the people who did this that we won’t stand for their hateful views in Leith.

“All of us should feel safe here whatever our nationality, our religious beliefs or our sexuality.”

Zsuzsa, who moved to Leith from Hungary three years ago, said Leith would be a “much less colourful place” without all the multi-cultural influences.

She added: “When I saw these stickers it reminded me of a negative tendency in Hungary a few years ago when the extreme right started posting images that previously wouldn’t have been acceptable but little by little became commonplace. The most tragic part of all this was when they started targeting Gypsy people.”

There will be two speakers on Leith Links - someone who has come to the area from another country and a born-and-bred Leither.

Marchers will gather at at Pilrig Park for a 2pm start, walk together along Pilrig St, down Leith Walk and Constitution Street before turning right into Queen Charlotte Street and finishing with a short rally on Leith Links.

Organisers have stressed that the event will be well-policed and stewarded so people can feel safe about bringing their families along.

A spokesman for Hibs said: “Racism in any form is unacceptable and has no place in Leith.

“Hibernian Football Club pride ourselves on our open and inclusive nature and welcome those of all backgrounds to Easter Road Stadium.

“We have worked with the Show Racism the Red Card campaign for several years to educate against racism and will continue to support their efforts over the coming season.”