Support pours in for refugee victims of ‘deliberate’ fire

Firefighters were kicked and punched as they tackled fires on Bonfire Night
Firefighters were kicked and punched as they tackled fires on Bonfire Night

Local residents and politicians have reacted with disgust after an Egyptian refugee spoke of his fear following a fire attack at his home in Edinburgh.

The father-of-four claims his family were the deliberate targets of a fire at a flat in Wester Hailes on Saturday morning.

The family, who moved to Scotland last year, said it was one of a series of incidents against his family, including his young daughter’s buggy being set alight.

Councillor Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener, said: “I am appalled and saddened to think this fire may have been started deliberately and such acts have absolutely no place in our communities. Edinburgh is a diverse, culturally rich city and one of the safest places to live. Our refugee support network will be reaching out to the victims concerned.”

READ MORE: Refugees ‘targeted’ in Wester Hailes fire attack

And culture and communities vice convenor Ian Campbell added: “Racism, bigotry or any form of hate crime is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in Edinburgh.

“If anyone has any information about this incident in the early hours of Saturday morning, I urge you to contact Police Scotland immediately to help them with their investigation. We can only be thankful that no one was hurt, in this instance.”

The man, who does not wish to be named, said: “I heard about Scottish people, they’re friendly and welcoming to people from different countries and different cultures, never thought this was going to happen with us in Scotland.

“My wife, she used to wear niqab but she took it off because she is scared. We can’t feel safe nowhere, it’s just a disappointment really.

“Every day things are getting worse than ever, honestly, we don’t feel safe at all, my kids can’t sleep.”

The local community were also quick to hit out at the “horrific” incident in a bid to show refugees and visitors the city is a welcoming place to live.

Jainus Areebas said: “I hope this does not put the refugees that are yet to come off, Edinburgh is a welcoming place for them.”

And James Kelso added on Facebook: “The lowlife underbelly of Scotland. Looking for someone to blame for their miserable lives. They likely find their courage in the bottom of a bottle.”

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP called the attack “cowardly”

She said: “Refugees fleeing for their lives deserve safety and sanctuary when they come to Scotland. This cowardly attack which Police Scotland is treating as deliberate fire-raising will horrify decent people across the county. Community leaders must ensure that resources and plans are in place to support integration and to overcome the fear and hate that seeks to divide us.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police in Edinburgh are appealing for information after a common stair within a block of flats was set alight in the early hours of September 2.

“At around 2.12am on Saturday police and fire services were called to flats after a resident reported the fire.

“Luckily, there were no injuries and no evacuations were necessary.”

Det Insp Bruce Coutts of Corstorphine CID added: “We are treating this as a deliberate fireraising incident and are carrying out inquiries in the local area.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police.”

Cllr Graeme Bruce and Cllr Susan Webber stated, “We are aware that Police Scotland is investigating this as a deliberate fire-raising. And if indeed it is uncovered that this was an intentional and targeted act then we can only be thankful that due to the quick mindedness and vigilance of the residents in raising the alarm that no one was injured.”

Cllr Webber stated further, “All the residents that I met during my campaign and since my election have spoken about their willingness in welcoming and assisting new families settle into this community, I was genuinely shocked to hear of this event”.