Scotland offers to become 1st UK country to accept Gazan refugees, faces online backlash amid Israel-Hamas war

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Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf offered for the country to be the first in the United Kingdom to accept Gazan refugees amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

Yousaf drew swift condemnation on social media, as even Arab nations like Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt – some of which have taken strong stances against Israel – simultaneously have opposed taking Palestinian refugees amid the humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of vetting concerns about who of them might be affiliated with terrorist groups. 

Some users on social media went even further, arguing against bringing in Palestinian refugees who they said grow up being taught to hate Jews and oppose Israel’s right to exist. 

Speaking before the Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Aberdeen, Yousaf said ‘2.2 million innocent people cannot pay the price for the actions of Hamas.’ 

‘In the past, people in Scotland and across the UK have opened our hearts and our homes. We’ve welcomed those from Syria, from Ukraine, and many other countries. Conference, we must do so again,’ Yousaf said in a clip of his speech he shared on X. ‘There are currently 1 million people displaced within Gaza. So therefore I’m calling today on the international community to commit to a worldwide refugee program for the people of Gaza. I’m calling on the U.K. government to take two urgent steps.’

‘Firstly, they should immediately begin work on the creation of a refugee resettlement scheme for those in Gaza who want to and of course are able to leave. And when they do so, Scotland is willing to be the first country in the UK to offer safety and sanctuary to those who are caught up in these terrible attacks,’ he continued. 

‘Conference, my brother-in-law is a doctor in Gaza. When we can get through to him on the phone, he tells us of scenes of absolute carnage – hospitals running out of medical supplies. Doctors, nurses having to make the most difficult decision of all – who to treat and who to let die. That can’t be allowed. Not in this day and age. So I therefore urge the UK government to support the medical evacuation of injured civilians in Gaza,’ Scotland’s first minister said. ‘And let me be clear, Scotland is ready to play her part, and our hospitals will treat the injured men, women and children of Gaza where we can.’ 

Yousaf’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla, has been trying to get her parents out of Gaza. 

‘The people of Gaza are a proud people. Many don’t want to leave, and shouldn’t have to,’ Yousaf added in another X post. ‘But for those displaced, who want to leave, there should be a worldwide refugee scheme. Scotland is willing to be a place of sanctuary and be the first country to take those refugees.’

But the call to bring in Gazan refugees got swift pushback on social media. 

‘Why should we, they hate the west, our way of life etc. The children are taught at a very early age to hate Jews and Christians,’ one user wrote. 

‘The country voted for HAMAS who they knew were terrorists,’ the user added. 

The user noted how the United Kingdom saw large-scale demonstrations in favor of Palestinians after Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians. The post, responding to Yousaf’s video, also referenced a British school teacher who showed a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad during classroom instruction years ago. The teacher reportedly still remains in hiding after facing protests from parents in the Muslim community, The Daily Mail reported. 

The user also highlighted security at Jewish schools in the U.K. 

In light of Hamas’ attack, Jewish schools across England were bolstering security as a precaution as antisemitic incidents quadrupled, The Guardian reported. 

‘Why do none of the bordering [countries] accept them?’ one user wrote, responding to Yousaf’s post. ‘Wonder why.’ 

‘No. United Kingdom Island has enough issues of our own,’ a second user said. ‘We have too many people living on the island as it is. therefore, Arab nations should open borders for their Muslim brothers and sisters, house them and help them. Their countries are large and have the capacity to do so.’ 

Broadcaster Paula London wrote, ‘It’s not up to you, it’s up to Rishi Sunak as thankfully Scotland don’t have independence.’ 

‘Iran, Syria, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon are not accepting the Gazans?’ another user said. 

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