THE first refugee councillor to be elected in Scotland has criticised the First Minister for shaking hands with the president of Türkiye.

Roza Salih is an SNP councillor in the Greater Pollok ward of Glasgow City Council.

She was elected in 2022 and became the country’s first councillor to have moved to Scotland as a refugee.

The Kurdish-born politician arrived in 2001 after her grandfather and uncle were killed in Iraq.

Her father was a Peshmerga – a member of the army which fought for Kurdish independence against the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

On Friday evening, after images emerged of First Minister Humza Yousaf shaking hands with Turkish president Recep Erdoğan at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, Salih took to X/Twitter to express her disappointment in the leader of her party.

“I am disappointed and disgusted by this image @HumzaYousaf,” she said.

“Erdogan kills #Kurds in Turkey & does not respect Human Rights.

“Our Politicians & half of the population are imprisoned by him and you shake his hand.

“I did not expect this from a FM that says he respects human rights.”

In recent months Erdogan’s government has stepped up attacks in Syria.

The Turkish military are targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Türkiye claims are a affiliated with a terrorist group.

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However, the YPG is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces – a US ally in the fight against Islamic State.

Yousaf had tweeted the photo of himself shaking hands with Erdogan, saying he had been urging both the Turkish president and Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, to support calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

He said: “As well as discussing the urgency of global action on tackling the climate crisis, I spoke to @RTErdogan & Lebanon PM @Najib_Mikati about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

“An immediate & permanent ceasefire is needed now. Too many innocent children have died, it must stop”.

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Türkiye has so far taken a critical stance towards Israel’s actions in Gaza and does not consider Hamas a terrorist organisation.

Salih later added that although Yousaf appeared to be calling for a ceasefire during the meeting with Erdogan, it was still no acceptable to shake his hand.

“From his tweet it seems he is pushing for a cease fire in Gaza, however, Erdogan's hands are dripping with blood,” she said.

“Can you ask someone who is happy to commit genocide on one group of people to help stop the genocide of another? NO”

Salih later told The National that she had to be true to herself, even if that involved criticising the leader of her party.

"Everyone in politics has to do things they don’t like but they make their opinions and feelings known," she said. 

"In this case Humza being friendly and laughing with Erdogan is an offence to the Kurdish people.

"Erdogan is undemocratic and against everything that Europeans stand for.

"I will be true to myself and stand up to what’s wrong in politics. If we don’t we won’t make any difference, opinions matters and us in politics have to make our opposition clear and distaste for wrong actions and call for a change in course. Otherwise what are we doing in politics?

"The handshake, laughing and having a hand on the other shoulder, it's agreeable - the consequential image it presents to Scotland and to the world." 

A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “It is important for the First Minister to meet with heads of state, and the First Minister had a meeting with President Erdogan – along with many other world leaders – at Cop28 in Dubai.

“They discussed the need for urgent action on the climate crisis and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

It comes as Israel renews its offensive in Gaza after the end of a week-long ceasefire on Friday.