A FORMER Kurdish asylum seeker celebrated for her campaigning work as one of the “Glasgow Girls” is among a group of young women from ethnic minority backgrounds hoping to become MSPs next year.

Roza Salih, 31, said she has put her name forward to go on the SNP approved candidates list ahead of the Holyrood election in May 2021.

I also want to stand to help give confidence to other BAME women that you can put yourself forward for election.

At the age of 15, she co-founded the Glasgow Girls with fellow pupils from Drumchapel High School.

The Glasgow Girls campaigned to stop the UK Border Agency carrying out dawn raids and detaining and then deporting children, successfully preventing the deportation of their school friend, Agnesa Murselaj, from Kosovo.

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“We don’t have any BAME women elected to the Scottish Parliament. I came to Scotland as an asylum seeker and I don’t think there are any other people who want to stand from such a background. It would send out a very positive signal about Scotland if I was elected to Holyrood,” she said.

“It would really show that Scotland is a very welcoming Scotland and gives opportunities to people from ethnic minorities as equals. Many people from ethnic minorities don’t feel represented in parliament. If I become an elected member I could bring my ideas and background to the table.”

She added: “I also want to stand to help give confidence to other BAME women that you can put yourself forward for election.

“And that people from ethnic minorities are capable of doing the job as an MSP. And even if I don’t win the selection contest within the party, I think it’s important to inspire others to do so. It is also an experience I would also hope to learn from.”

Last week The National revealed a mental health nurse from an ethnic minority background is being lined up as the candidate best placed for the SNP to retain Derek Mackay’s seat for the party.

Michelle Campbell, who is of Scottish and East African heritage and who returned to her NHS duties at the height of the Covid pandemic, is being discussed as the likely contender for the Renfrewshire North and West seat for the poll next year.

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The 36-year-old was elected onto Renfrewshire Council in 2017 and in 2019 won the councillor of the year at the SNP’s annual St Andrew’s Day dinner. She is also a member of the SNP’s Social Justice Commission.

Only four MSPs have been from black and minority ethnic backgrounds – all men. In 2005, Salih, along with Amal Azzudin, Ewelina Siwak, Toni-Lee Henderson, Jennifer McCarron and Emma Clifford were pupils at Drumchapel High in Glasgow. The teenagers sprang into action when their friend, Agnesa Murselaj, was taken away after a dawn raid by the UK Border Force.

Officers in bullet-proof vests had stormed the young girl’s home in the early hours, handcuffed her father and removed the terrified family in a blacked-out van to a detention centre.

The schoolgirls petitioned the Home Office, meeting then First Minister Jack McConnell, and eventually forcing a change of policy and an end to dawn raids and the detention of children.

Salih graduated in law and politics from Strathclyde University and is now working as office manager for Glasgow MP Chris Stephens. In 2016 she helped to get funding for scholarships for asylum seekers with the University of Strathclyde, the first institution in Scotland to offer such a programme. In 2017, she stood as an SNP candidate in the Glasgow City Council election.

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The Glasgow Girls’ story was later turned into a television film and a stage play.

The SNP suspended its process to select candidates for Holyrood at the start of the pandemic but is to restart the internal elections soon. At their last conference, SNP delegates agreed a motion recognising the progress made in increasing the number of women elected.

However, it warned BAME, disabled people and other minority groups continue to be under-represented at Holyrood.