German minister fears being seen as "intruder"

Aniko
Rev Anikó Schütz Bradwell

A German Church of Scotland minister has revealed she is increasingly concerned about being seen as an "intruder" in the country she has called home for 10 years.

The Rev Anikó Schütz Bradwell, who leads the Humbie with Yester, Bolton and Saltoun congregations in East Lothian, admitted she had, at times, felt nervous about speaking in her native tongue in public in wake of Brexit.

The 34-year-old, who is married to an Englishman, spoke out ahead of a Scottish Government summit in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Shock

Around 450 people from 24 different EU nationals countries living here are to get the chance to question First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the implications of the Brexit vote.

SNP Ministers are examining options in the wake of the referendum result which saw voters in Scotland backing remain by 62% to 38% while the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU on June 23.

Read the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland's response to the EU referendum result here.

Speaking personally, Ms Schütz Bradwell, who is attending the event, said: "I was very shocked with the result of the EUReferendum.

"I have been living in Scotland for 10 years, volunteering, working and studying during this time.

"Up until the referendum, I have always felt welcome here - as part of a wider society that is made up of people from different backgrounds, including their nationality.

"I do not worry when I'm at home in my parish and in my day to day life," she said. "It's more about when I'm out and about in the wider world."

"Now I'm much more worried about being seen as an intruder.

"Since the referendum there have been many reports of increased racist abuse.

"It seems to me that the rhetoric used by some of the politicians in the campaign for Brexit has made it legitimate to use racist language.

"I've noticed that I have at times been more nervous about speaking German to friends, or on the phone, in public."

Borders

Mrs Schütz Bradwell said she spent time in several EU countries volunteering with Christian organisations after she graduated from university in Germany.

"I've always appreciated these opportunities, to get to know other cultures, meet different people, and make friendships across borders," she said.

"I worry that opportunities like this - which are extremely enriching - will not be so easily available in future, if borders are closed.

"I grew up in East Germany, behind a wall - with very limited opportunities to travel, learn from others, or even live abroad - I don't want us to build any more walls."

Mrs Schütz Bradwell said she was worried that Britain's departure from the EU could make it more difficult for her and her husband David to
travel to see family members in Germany.

"Up until now, we both were EU nationals - now different rules with regard to travel will apply to us," she added.

"I don't know if, or for how long, I will continue to be able to work in the UK.

"Leaving the EU is also likely to have severe consequences for the economic situation of the UK, as well as for security and protection from terror.

"In times like this, of global threats like ISIS, climate change, and the enormous need of the refugees coming to Europe, I think we should stand together and try to build bridges, rather than cutting ourselves off from our friends, neighbours and families."

Mrs Schütz Bradwell said she hoped that the consequences of leaving the EU won't be too severe.

"I hope that I will continue to be able to live and work in Scotland, while being able to travel freely across Europe," she added.

"And I hope that we won't isolate ourselves from our neighbours."

Cross-cultural partnerships

Austrian Sabine Chalmers, who works as a refugee project development worker, for Scottish Faiths Actions for Refugees, said she was "deeply saddened" by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The 25-year-old said the “unknown” and uncertainties" of the UK’s future was unsettling.

Mrs Chalmers, who is based in the Kirk offices in Edinburgh, said "Setting possible difficulties such as travelling to Austria with my Scottish husband aside, I believe that standing together in partnership is particularity important in challenging times, and the UK decided it would be better off alone – something I cannot comprehend.

"Likewise, I have found the rise in hate speech towards people of different nationalities worrying.

"My hope is that the UK will turn its back on racism and xenophobia and recognise the values of a multi-cultural society and of cross-cultural partnerships and friendships.

" My hope is that our Government will make wise decisions, thinking beyond their time in office and work to build an inclusive and equal society for future generations.

"I have had incredibly encouraging letters from my employers and MSP regarding the EU referendum results, and my hope is that this spirit of welcome that I have received will be spread widely."