Client: Glasgow City Council
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Murder of Firsat Dag and resultant demonstrations
Timescale: 5 August - ongoing
On 5 August Firsat Dag from Kurdistan, who was seeking asylum in the UK,
was stabbed to death in Glasgow. He had been living in the tough
Sighthill area for two weeks.
Later that day, asylum-seekers marched through Glasgow and held a
demonstration outside the City Chambers.
The following week an Iranian refugee, Davoud Naseri, was stabbed. He
survived, declaring that he hated Glasgow and its people.
The main focus of media attention after the murder was not the police
investigation, but Glasgow Council's policy of housing asylum-seekers in
Sighthill, a socially deprived housing estate.
The Council's main objective was to inform both asylum-seekers that
their plight was not going unrecognised and also the local population
that their needs were not being ignored in favour of asylum-seekers.
Glasgow is the only local authority in Scotland that offered to take
asylum-seekers in the Government's dispersal programme.
Groups housed in other areas of the city have integrated relatively
successfully. The message that Glasgow welcomes those seeking asylum was
in danger of getting buried by negative press.
Strategy and Plan
As soon as the police reported the demonstration, a council press
officer met the protesters and arranged for a meeting the following day
with council leader, Charlie Gordon.
It was decided that senior personnel, such as councillor Archie Graham,
the chair of Glasgow Anti-Racist Alliance, would be made available to
the media round-the-clock.
In response to international media coverage, for example from AP in the
US and a German documentary crew, a series of press conferences with the
police enabled the council to denounce the murder and reinforce the
message that, unlike some areas, Glasgow welcomes those seeking
It was equally important to get across the message that voices of the
indigenous community were being heard.
It was announced that a meeting would take place where the council would
receive a list of demands from the asylum-seekers. The council would
then respond with a meeting one week later.
As the focus of the media's spotlight on asylum issues shifted to
Glasgow, all the national press and broadcast networks demanded
interviews and information.
It was crucial to project the council's message in the face of negative
press briefings by various interest groups.
Measurement and Evaluation
Glasgow council's press office has a computerised monitoring package but
technical problems meant it could not be used. Enquiries and coverage
were recorded and processed by hand.
Arrangements were made to separate all press cuttings relating to the
issue from day-to-day coverage of council business. It is too early for
a full evaluation.
A package of emergency measures was announced by the council one week
after the murder. Some have already been implemented, including the
opening of a library and Lifelong Learning Centre in Sighthill in record
Improving long-term relations between the indigenous community and
asylum-seekers will be a major challenge for Glasgow council as
demonstrations continue to take place.