The Scottish island of Bute is to become home to 15 Syrian asylum-seeker families due to arrive over the next few weeks.
But the move has led to what Buteman editor Craig Borland, left, termed “predictable grumbling” among some local people.
In an editorial in this week’s edition, Craig tackled the issue head-on, claiming the resettlement plan represented an “amazing opportunity” for the island.
Wrote Craig: “Bute is a hugely welcoming place, but, through no fault of its own, it’s not very multicultural. Few on Bute know much of the Middle East, fewer still of Syria itself.
“There have, predictably but depressingly, been grumbles about how we should look after our own first, how we should be spending our taxes and so on. But mostly these are just not-very-thinly-veiled ways of people saying “I don’t want them in my back yard”.
“Well, I do. I want Bute to be a place where people who come here with little more than the clothes they are standing in can feel safe and at home.
“I want Bute to be a place known not for narrow-minded bigotry, but for its warmth, and humanity, and willingness to help people with nothing in whatever way it can.”
His comments follow a talk by Dima al Mekdad at Rothesay Library last week which Craig described as “one of the most powerful things I’ve heard in my time on Bute.”
Dima, who was a student in the UK when the Syrian revolution erupted in 2011, tried unsuccessfully to return to the war-torn country in 2012 but eventually claimed asylum in Britain.