Glasgow Girls is a new musical drama from the BBC. It tells the true story of a group of 15 year old students who campaigned against their friend’s deportation.
Amal Azzudin, one of the original campaigners, spoke to Socialist Worker about the new production.
“We went to a special screening, all the original girls and our teacher Mr Girvan,” she said. “It was really good.
“There’s already been a stage musical about us, but this is very different, partly because it has to tell the whole story in just an hour.
“But it sticks to the main parts of our story and it really shows the spirit of the campaign.”
Agnesa Murselaj, a Kosovan Roma schoolgirl, was rounded up in a dawn raid by immigration officers in 2005.
A group of her friends from Drumchapel High School started a petition to stop her deportation. They went on to build a campaign that at its height led to them confronting the Scottish first minister at the time, Labour’s Jack McConnell.
Agnesa won the right to stay.
“We gained public support through our campaign and got a huge reaction,” Amal said. “This drama shows the backlash we had to fight and some of the myths we came up against.
“The programme’s researcher Anna was amazing. She interviewed us individually and as a group. We had meetings to discuss the script and chances to change things we didn’t like.
“It’s great to show that young people can achieve social change. It really cuts through the stereotypes of younger people you often see on TV.”
“This isn’t a TV version of the stage show,” Amal added. “It’s completely different. They didn’t write new songs, but took chart songs young people will know. One of the main ones is Not Giving In by Rudimental.”
Amal is happy that it shows the wider support their campaign got from older people such as neighbours Jean Donnachie and Noreen Real.
They jointly won the Glasgow Evening Times newspaper’s Woman of the Year award in 2008.
“We got solidarity from people in the community,” said Amal.
“I, Jean and Noreen set up a dawn patrol on our estate to watch for immigration raids. That’s such a strong part of the story and I’m pleased they showed it.
“Then there was our teacher Mr Girvan. Without the support of these people we would never have achieved what we did.”
But Amal still finds all the attention she has got odd. “It’s surreal to watch TV and see someone playing me,” she said.
“It was weird to watch her and think that’s exactly what I used to do.
“But we don’t see all this as being about us any more. I hate to hear how people are being treated, especially in Yarl’s Wood.
“Families are still being separated. The struggle over deportations is still going on.”