Oscar hope ‘faced racist abuse in West Lothian’

Sara Ishaq speaks during a debate in Warsaw
Sara Ishaq speaks during a debate in Warsaw
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AN Oscar nominee today told how she was the target of racist thugs in West Lothian in the wake of 9/11.

Film-maker Sara Ishaq, whose documentary Karama Has No Walls has been nominated for an Academy Award, said she had to “justify” her Arab background in the wake of the Twin Towers disaster as yobs in Bridgend targeted her and her family.

The 29-year-old, who was born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and a Yemeni father, said bullies would steal their bins and graffiti them with racial slurs.

She said: “We lived in Bridgend, which used to be quite a rough area. Our wheelie bins would go missing and we would recover them with Bin Laden and Taliban carved on them.

“It was ignorance more than prejudice. As an Arab, there was almost a sense that you had to justify yourself.

“I really decided that OK, I’m in a position to see it from both cultures and bridge the gap between the two. I was in a position to try and change that view that people have.”

Sara and her family moved to Yemen when she was a child, but her parents split up when she was a teenager and she returned to Scotland to live with her mum and two younger siblings just outside Linlithgow.

She studied a degree in humanities and social sciences at Edinburgh University, went to Edinburgh College of Art and returned to Yemen to make a film about her family as part of her course.

Her film Karama Has No Walls – karama means dignity in Arabic – has been nominated for best documentary short at next Sunday’s Oscars.

The powerful and graphic footage about the Arab spring documents the deaths of 53 people in Yemen in 2011 in a massacre in which security forces were implicated.

Currently living in Cairo, with her mother and sister in Edinburgh, brother in Inverness and grandparents in Fife, Sara said: “I love Edinburgh so much, but it is not a place for someone like me just now because it is so tame and nothing really happens.

“I’m just used to being in places where chaos is the norm.

“You become almost addicted to that sort of lifestyle.

“I think Edinburgh is a place to go back to when it’s time to settle and have a quiet life.”