MSP Humza Yousaf Makes Racial Attack Complaint

by Mark Simpson

Winning article at the Scottish Student Journalism Awards 2014 in the category Scoop of the Year

Winning article at the Scottish Student Journalism Awards 2014 in the category Scoop of the Year

Scottish National Party MSP Humza Yousaf has complained to the police after being subjected to a racial attack whilst selling the Big Issue, as part of the INSP’s Big Sell Off event, earlier this month.

The incident occurred in front of The Wee G cameras, who were filming Mr Yousaf taking part in the event at the doors of Queen Street station in Glasgow.

Video by Mark Simpson

Prior to the attack, the man speaks to the cameraman instructing him to take a photo of Mr Yousaf, labelling him a ‘benefit locust’. Undeterred, Mr Yousaf attempted to sell the man a copy of the Big Issue before being rejected by the man who stated Mr Yousaf was ‘not from my country’.

It is unclear whether the man knew who Mr Yousaf is, and is perhaps indicative of attitudes towards street paper vendors in general.

Our cameras caught Mr Yousaf’s immediate reaction after the incident.

He said: “It’s got me quite angry actually, but if anything it’s got me motivated to sell some more. I can stand up for myself, I’m a politician I know how to debate, but what about poor guys who can barely speak a word of English, sleeping rough on the streets who don’t have a home for themselves just trying to give themselves a hand up by selling the Big Issue?”


Photo by Mark Simpson

The incident was witnessed by a number of INSP staff, along with regular Glasgow vendor Anakin, who originates from Bucharest. He appeared unmoved when Mr Yousaf’s assailant began ranting about Bulgarians and Romanians.

INSP general manager Maree Aldam commented: “Seeing this kind of abuse was a shock to everyone involved in The Big Sell-Off event. He [the Big Issue vendor] confirmed that incidents like this are not uncommon. We know that verbal abuse, racism – and sometimes even violence – affect our street paper vendors all around the world.

“If there is a silver lining to this particular incident, it is that it happened to a public figure who reported it to the police and is working with INSP and The Big Issue to get the story out there and raise awareness of the reality for some street paper vendors.”

Follow Mark on Twitter: @Markyboy89

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