“THE sun shines on the righteous”, my Aberdonian grandmother used to say. So it did yesterday, World Refugee Day, as 1500 people joined a peaceful, socially distanced protest in George Square called by the campaign group Stand Up to Racism (SUTR).

They came from across the city. The young black, Asian and white people, with their homemade Black Lives Matter placards.

The trade unionists, with the flags and banners of the transport workers’ RMT, the firefighters’ FBU and the teachers’ EIS. Most of them wore face coverings, as per the urging of SUTR.

The demonstration was an impressive, united cross-section of multicultural Glasgow.

It reminded me of the great day, in 1993, when thousands of us poured into George Square to welcome the great Nelson Mandela to our city.

There could hardly have been a more profound contrast between this uplifting expression of the diversity of Glasgow and the ugly scenes of last Sunday and Wednesday. Then, the angry white men of Scotland’s small but nasty far-right wreaked violent havoc, under the pretext of defending a cenotaph that was never under threat. Yesterday, the far-right thugs couldn’t muster as many as 40.

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On the anti-racist demonstration, protestors stood on chalk marks made by the stewards, each of them two-and-a-half metres apart. SUTR activist Fatima Uygun, who compèred the rally, explained that as well as standing against racism and the far-right, they wanted to keep people safe from Covid-19.

We heard from speakers representing Black Lives Matter, the trade unions and civic organisations. A statement of support was read out on behalf of Sandra White MSP. We took the knee in memory of George Floyd and every other black person killed by racist police.

As the demonstration ended, just before noon, the considerable number of police (some of them on horseback) inexplicably kettled the bloc from the Green Brigade, who had behaved peacefully throughout. Why, people asked, were a section of the anti-racists being subjected to much tougher policing than was meted out to the violent racists and fascists over the previous week?

That unnecessary flashpoint notwithstanding, yesterday was a great day for the anti-racist majority in Glasgow. As SUTR spokeswoman Charlotte Ahmed said: “Today’s demonstration was a magnificent expression of the unity, the anti-racism and the anti-fascism of the people of Glasgow … We have made it clear: refugees are welcome here, Black Lives Matter, no racists in Glasgow. No pasaran!”