WE must push forward on what unites us, rather then focus on what divides us if we are to defeat racism in today’s culture.
That was the heartfelt plea delivered by ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, who was speaking during a Stand Up To Racism meeting in Southsea last night.
Our enemies strive on what divides us, so we must strive forward on what unites usMoazzam Begg
Mr Begg, who was taken to the detainment camp after the US government claimed he was an al-Qaeda member, spoke about Donald Trump and his experiences at the military prison.
The meeting at Friendship House in Elm Grove also saw a variety of speakers from action groups and unions, with about 100 people there.
Mr Begg, the outreach director of advocacy group Cage, said: ‘We must stand firm and strong when confronting racism in today’s society.
‘Our enemies strive on what divides us, so we must strive forward on what unites us.’
Speaking in regards to Mr Trump’s US election victory, Mr Begg said of the president-elect: ‘Donald Trump gets elected to seal the approval of racism and Islamophobia.
We have no choice but to act now and fight back as we cannot afford to do nothing in light of this.’
He went on to speak about the aftermath of his detention, saying that he is friends with one of the former guards at the prison, and invited him to his home earlier this year, stating that it shows what can be achieved if people find ‘a common ground’.
Prior to his speech, the meeting heard from Maggi Ferncombe, the regional secretary for Unison South East who said the union was doing all it could to defend migrant workers in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas following the EU referendum vote.
A surge in hate crime incidents across the country was reported following the vote to leave, with migrant workers often targeted.
She said: ‘We need migrant workers.
‘They make this country tick and we should not be vilifying them.
‘Thirteen per cent of people that deliver our public services are migrants.’
Chantelle Burton of Portsmouth action group Don’t Hate, Donate also spoke, and revealed that the group has managed to send 200 tonnes of aid to refugees in Aleppo, Uganda, Greece and Calais.
She said that migrant workers should not be labelled, saying: ‘I do not see why we label one another, we are all humans at the end of the day.’