CELEBRATING SCOTTISH-ASIAN FRIENDSHIP
Thursday, 10 December 2015 16:45
Angus MacDonald MSP marks St. Andrews Day with event promoting multicultural ties
Earlier this month, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald hosted a landmark constituency surgery event, bringing together representatives of the Scottish-Asian community to celebrate multicultural ties for St. Andrews Day.
The event was called “Aap Ki Awaaz: Your Voice – Meet Your MSP” and was held in the Green Park Community Centre in Polmont. Alongside championing ties between Scotland and South Asia, the reception presented an opportunity to engage the Scots-Asian community who live in Angus MacDonald’s constituency with the role of a local MSP and the variety of services they can provide on behalf of those they represent.
This is where the title of the event stemmed from: “Aap Ki Awaaz” is the expression used in Urdu and Hindi for “Your Voice”.
The focal point of the ‘Aap Ki Awaaz’ was a Question and Answer session with Angus MacDonald (pictured above) on the subject of his work within his Falkirk East constituency and in the parliamentary chamber at Holyrood.
There were also lively speeches celebrating multiculturalism, equal rights and social diversity from Mr. MacDonald himself, Grangemouth-based community activist Anum Qaisar – a Holyrood List Candidate for Central Scotland (pictured below) who works as a political researcher and caseworker for the for Glasgow North West MP, Carol Monaghan – and Farah Farzana, co-founder of the Falkirk district-based Asian community outreach group, Al-Masaar, in partnership with whom Angus’s “Your Voice: Meet Your MSP” event was organised.
Commenting on the event, Farah Farzana (pictured below) said, “Al-Masaar were delighted to have had the opportunity to organise ‘Aap Ki Awaaz’ with Angus MacDonald MSP, especially with there being the need for more a direct connection between the South Asian community and the activities of the Scottish Parliament.
"The choice of Polmont community centre was perfect as it is a well known centre for Asian events in the Falkirk East constituency."
Ms. Farzana continued, “By holding a special Scottish-Asian St. Andrews Day celebration, we sought to bring down any cultural barriers that might prevent people from the local Asian community approaching our elected representative regarding issues that really matter to us.
"We received very positive feedback from all who attended and, in collaboration with Angus, hope to continue to make progress fostering multicultural ties within our constituency.”
Along with Al-Masaar, Mr. MacDonald’s ‘Aap Ki Awaaz: Your Voice – Meet Your MSP’ reception was also supported by Arun Gopinath and Claire Harvey of the Central Scotland Equalities Council (CSREC), Arshad Farooqui of the Falkirk Community Muslim Club 55 & Over, Rev. Aftab Gohar and Scots-Asian members of Abbotsgrange Parish Church in Grangemouth and representatives of the Falkirk Mosques and the Rainbow Muslim Womens’ Group.
After the formalities were finished, delicious South Asian snacks, refreshments and Indian tea (‘masala chai’) were enjoyed by guests as they mingled together and got the chance to speak to their MSP individually.
Angus MacDonald commented, “It was an enormous pleasure to meet with local representatives of the Scots-Asian community within the social setting of our ‘Aap Ki Awaaz’ event, and to have the opportunity to answer questions about my work on behalf of the constituents of Falkirk East.
“I consider it one of the greatest privileges an individual can have to be the ‘Awaaz’ - or ‘Voice’ - of the people I represent in Scotland’s national parliament."
Concluding his statement, Mr. MacDonald said, “The period around Scotland’s national day, St. Andrews Day, provides us with a fitting time to celebrate Scottish-Asian friendship and multicultural relations.
"From commerce and science through to culture and cuisine, the positive contribution the Asian community has made to Scottish society over the decades has been immeasurable - a contribution that has enriched the very fabric of our national life”.