Robina Qureshi

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Robina Qureshi (born in 1967) is a Scottish human rights campaigner.

She is a notable critic of the UK's asylum policies and has campaigned to close detention centres for asylum seekers. Qureshi's significant other is the acclaimed fimmaker Peter Mullan.


  • I remember growing up we felt like outsiders, the minority group.It was difficult to just be a part of something where labels and racism were so strong, and then at home we weren't quite Pakistani Muslim. I wanted to be free from the constraints of my family's expectations but also white society's with its assumptions about particular form of oppression I was supposed to be suffering. And I never wanted to sell out - to either side! So how could you win? It drove me to a nervous breakdown when I was 19 and confronted with the prospect of a regular forced arranged marriage, suicide seemed like a good idea, the pressure was so intense. My breakdown was a reprieve from all the pressure. I literally checked out and daydreamed 24/7 for 2 months or more.
  • Our work is regarded as political, which I don't care much about as a definition cos what we are doing is humanitarian work and highlighting the injustice and inequality of it all. We are now having to give money to asylum seekers who are destitute, food and shelter and money to buy basic toiletries and ask people to let them into their homes for two or three days a week. We are dealing with people who are left voiceless by government policies and practices. How can you talk about equal opportunities when the people that need equal opportunities the most are the ones that are totally invisibilised and ignored?
  • I don't know where I'll be in five years and I like the way that feels.
  • This government is trying to rip people out of their community, because they haven't met the immigration criteria, yet they have spent years living here rebuilding communities that once had no hope at all. That's an amazing thing to watch.
  • At 4.21 am this morning, I was woken in the night,13 year old Saida Vucaj phoned me weeping and exhausted. She said they woke her and her family and told them to get dressed because they are taking her and her family back to ‘our country’ - and then the line went dead. Now I’m the one who is upset. Worse than that I’m a fool because I believed that someone somewhere in a position of power would be able to help this family who have been Glasgow residents for five years, law abiding and honest. I was fool enough to think that children and photographs and lobbying and a visit to the first minister only seven days ago might change hearts, might win some form of reprieve. Instead, the family are being woken at dawn – yet again, so nothing’s changed there - and being ‘sent back’ to Kosovo or Albania taking with them the clothes on their back and their Glasgow accents. I am disgusted by this calculated, unremitting barbarity known as the UK asylum & immigration policy. I feel ashamed of this country, that shame knows no depths, this calculated, unremitting barbarism that has broken that little girl’s heart will haunt this country for generations to come. I cannot express enough how disgusted and heartbroken I am for Saida Vucaj and her family, and all the other families waiting years and years and then suddenly picked up Nazi style to be deported. Disgusted.
  • “From a very young age, I mean really young - listening to his music, but more his words, Bob Dylan taught me everything, he sort of protected me and gave me freedom in my head out of this prison when I thought I was most locked into other people’s definitions of how my life was meant to be, be they my blood connections, the Muslim community or white society out there. He still does.”

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