I’ve dusted off the blog today, because a piece in both the print and online copies [direct link to Mail Online] of the Scottish Daily Mail has been brought to my attention.
I don’t need to blog this myself, because a Bute resident has posted an excellent rebuttal on Facebook. Lisa O’Donnell says;
So this is doing the rounds on the Isle of Bute and creating some heat. I hope people from my Island share my post, but only to help this family who have been shamefully abused and manipulated by the conservative right wing horror that is The Daily Mail. A journalist came to the Island basically and wrote this article based on information received from a local refugee with very limited English skills. It is clear to me what has been lost in translation. This family miss their home and the life they once lived before the war. The father in the article observes Rothesay is where people go to die, what he probably meant is Rothesay is where old people go to retire but this was leaped on by a nasty journalist to pen something the man didn’t mean to imply and given he probably saw houses bombed and innocent children slain on Syrian streets it’s fairly unlikely he said something like this. He also says the Island is beautiful, but it is not his home and it’s okay for him to say that because it’s not. If his family have been humbled by charity and he feels embarrassed then this is a human response and I would feel the same if my independence was taken from me and I could not provide for my family and had to rely on other people. He once owned a shop, was a man of property, this family has lost a great deal. Of course they are allowed to grieve that, but the deliberate misinterpretation of that grief by the DM is designed to incite hatred by making the family appear ungrateful and don’t doubt it. It is a shocking abuse of power and could lead to violence and I think we can agree this family have been through enough. People in Rothesay have been very supportive of the refugees and I really hope the good people of Bute will extend that generosity by seeing this trash for the manipulative right wing rhetoric it is. Don’t let the Daily Mail infiltrate our pure waters by bringing hate to our wee Island, encouraging people to bully and harm this family or any family who are going through so much already adjusting to the new world they occupy. As you can see the family have been photographed, despite idiot journalist not naming family for apparent concern for their safety, so if you are from Rothesay be kind and show your real hospitality by preventing ignorant bullies from having their way. Take care of our Syrian friends. I know most people on Island appalled by this article, but also aware there will be those minorities who will use it as an excuse to vomit nasty politics which could be harmful to our community.
The Mail piece has an undercurrent of “look at these ungrateful scroungers” running throughout, with mention made of “permission to work and access to public funds.” The reporter, Maureen Sugden, goes on to say, “Twelve months of costs, excluding economic integration, are met by the UK’s overseas aid budget.” There’s a blue information box included in the online version, which states, “Syrian refugee families sent to Scottish island where most are white and middle aged”.
Towards the end of the article, it is revealed that Abd (name changed by the Mail) has recently attempted suicide, and had been subjected to torture and imprisonment in his homeland. These are vulnerable people who have been through horror I find hard to imagine. It seems hard to credit that any reporter would think it ethical to write a piece that seems designed to make their lives harder, but then you realise it’s the Mail. I’m pleased to see there are people like Lisa in the world, people willing to stand up to such biased, insidious reporting.