Racism is “alive and kicking” in Dundee, according to council leader John Alexander, as he reveals allegations Humza Yousaf’s daughter was discriminated against did not shock him.
Mr Yousaf, who is the Scottish health secretary, and wife Nadia El-Nakla, have launched legal action against the Broughty Ferry nursery at the centre of the claims.
“It’s a shame that I’m not as shocked as I probably should be,” the Strathmartine councillor said.
“I think we’ve seen, over the last few years in particular, racism is alive and kicking in Dundee – as it is in every other local authority area.
“I remember having a discussion just last year, when there was some artwork on the hoarding around Waterfront Place, that was destroyed by, probably, somebody who had racist views, given the artist that was behind that.
“If anything, it is just another example of the fact that we need to continue to do more to tackle racism. It’s alive and kicking.”
The couple claim Little Scholars refused their daughter a place due to her “ethnic” sounding name – while others were granted a space.
The nursery has denied the allegations, but Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla have instructed high-profile lawyer Aamer Anwar to pursue the case — claiming a breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Alexander previously said that while Dundee was know as a “very tolerant, opening, welcoming city”, incidents such as the racist defacing of a mural painted in tribute to American man George Floyd showed there was a minority in the city who hold unacceptable views.
George Floyd mural defaced in Dundee
Mr Floyd died in an incident that attracted worldwide attention, after being restrained by police.
A mural of Mr Floyd by local artist Symon Mathieson – known as SYKE – had a racist symbol painted over Mr Floyd’s face and the word “black” daubed over, meaning it simply read, “lives matter”.
In another incident, the council leader received “disgusting” hate mail, which used slurs against gay, black and Asian people, along with other offensive terms, as well as the person threatening to “kill a Tory”.
(2/2) As we saw with the desecration of the George Floyd mural last month, there remains a minority who push hatred and intolerance.
— Cllr John Alexander (@CllrAlexander) July 16, 2020
Mr Alexander added: “I wouldn’t comment on the specifics of [Humza Yousaf’s] case; I don’t know anything other than what I’ve read in the press, so no direct contact with myself, for obvious reasons, as it doesn’t concern me as such.
“So, I’ll wait and see what comes back from the Care Inspectorate. But, no matter what age you are, what your background is, nobody should have to face that kind of alleged exclusion, no matter what the situation.
“Of course if it was a council-run nursery I’d be waiting on the outcome of that Care Inspectorate report to categorically tell me what happened – or what didn’t happen, as the case may be.
‘Serious action if there is racism’
“If the Care Inspectorate come back and say that there was clearly racism at play here, then I would expect some serious actions as a result of that.
“And, if it was a council nursery, then not only would I be appalled, but I’d be taking it to the highest levels, to the chief executive, to say, ‘sort this out’ and ensure that those individuals that perhaps put forward that type of approach or had those racist views no longer worked for the council.”
Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla are seeking a public apology and compensation to be paid to an anti-racist charity of their choice.
Mr Anwar says if this does not happen, action will be raised at Dundee Sheriff Court.