Sunday, 18 March 2012

Fabrice Muamba: a reminder of why we grant asylum...


Quite rightly the airwaves, blogs, newspapers and twittersphere is filled with the terrible news of Fabrice Muamba's on-pitch heart attack. Like everyone else I hope he pulls through, just as Mervyn Davies - who died yesterday - did after his on-pitch brain haemorrhage in 1976 playing for Swansea against Pontypridd.

Reading Muamba's story brought out another aspect of his life, something other than that he was a successful premier league football player living in Cheshire and playing for Bolton Wanderers. Muamba was only here and playing football because Britain gave his parents political asylum.

...the only reason Muamba was in England is because his father, Marcel, was a political refugee, granted indefinite leave on the basis that his life would be in danger if he were made to return to Africa. Muamba talked of going to sleep at night amid the backdrop of gunfire. His uncle, Ilunga, was murdered. Friends and neighbours died, too. When it was safe, he and his friends would play football but, very often, they would be called back inside.

We give asylum because it is the right thing to do - forget about the fiddles and abuse, the false claims, the political football. We give asylum so youngsters like Fabrice Muamba can play football without being kidnapped or shot because their Dad's on the wrong side in politics or a civil war.  There are thousands of other stories - less high profile - that tell us the same thing, that we give sanctuary to those fleeing threats without fear or favour and give them the same chance we give our own people, our own children.

It's one of the things that make us a great nation and a great people.


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