February 16, 2014
Scottish MSP Humza Yousaf was faced with racist abuse when selling The Big Issue on streets of Glasgow last week.
Glasgow-born Humza, a vocal supporter of The Big Issue, swapped the Scottish Parliament for an afternoon as a guest vendor at his pitch outside Queen Street railway station, pictured, as part of the Big Sell-Off.
He was shocked when a racist passer-by told him to “fuck off back home”, before the man – undeterred by news cameras filming Humza’s sales stint – ranted a foul-mouthed tirade about immigrants in Glasgow at the SNP minister.
“It was shocking that this man was not deterred by the presence of cameras, and it is deeply upsetting that someone would assume Scotland is not my home because of the colour of my skin,” Humza said.
“That moment brought home to me the fact that vendors must go through similar and worse situations week in, week out.
“By selling the Big Issue they are just looking for a hand up and a way to improve their life, rather than a hand out.
“They are not beggars, I see them as business people.
“For every ignorant racist or bigot there were many good, generous Glaswegians who stopped to buy the Big Issue, or simply stopped to smile and chat.”
Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, said: “One in three Big Issue vendors face verbal or physical abuse while they are working hard to earn a living selling the magazine.
“It is a tough job, as many of our guest vendors found while they were taking part in The Big Sell-Off last week.
“This abuse which was directed at Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf was inexcusable, and sadly illustrates the sort of challenges that our vendors regularly have to overcome.”
Humza – who was taking part in his second shift as a guest vendor – brushed the incident off and went on to sell over an impressive 50 magazines in just a couple of hours in the city centre.
He was joined in the Big Sell-Off by a host of fellow guest vendors from the worlds of TV, radio, politics, media and business, including actor Greg McHugh, novelist Alan Bissett and broadcaster Shereen Nanjiani, among many others.