Scottish Muslims face hostility and hate crimes since Paris attacks

In the week since the terror attacks in Paris, Europe has been coming together to pay tribute to the victims. But Scotland’s Muslims have come together to speak up about the increasing hostility they face.

Muslims in Scotland have been caught up in an Islamaphobic “fierce backlash” in the wake of last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris.

Police Scotland confirmed that they had received 64 reports of religious or racially motivated hate crimes in the last week.

Cases involve online, verbal and physical attacks, and Police Scotland said charges have been brought or are pending in 40 of the cases.

The figures do not specify attacks on particular religious groups but lawyer Aamer Anwar said there has been a “notable increase in hate crimes directed at Muslims” in the last seven days.

Cases include an attack on a takeaway shop owner in Methil, Fife, a deliberate fire at an Islamic cultural centre in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, and online abuse directed at Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf.

Mr Anwar said there have also been reports of a young woman being called a “terrorist” in Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, a mother and child attacked in Thornliebank, Glasgow, verbal abuse of schoolchildren in playgrounds, a group being abused in Glasgow Central station by train passengers and death threats directed at the Strathclyde University Muslim Students Association.

The surge in ant-Muslim crime includes fire-raising and physical attacks as well as verbal and online abuse.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone revealed that 64 religiously or racially motivated crimes have taken place since last Friday night’s atrocities.

DCC Livingstone said that four people have now been arrested in connection with a gang attack on Muslim Mohammed Khalid, 53, who owns fast food takeaway in Methil, Fife.

The revelations came at the central mosque today, as religious and secular groups gathered to deliver a strong message that Scotland will not tolerate attacks on the Muslim community.

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar listed a catalogue of crimes including the Fife attack.

Asma Ali said that the week following the attacks in Paris was the first time she felt she had been “treated differently” because of her race or religion.

She said: “I’ve lived through 9/11, 7/7, and the failed attack at Glasgow Airport.

“But this week, for the first time, I have noticed a difference in the way that people treated me.

“When I was out over the weekend in Glasgow, people were staring at me and muttering things under their breath as I walked down Argyle Street.

The lawyer was speaking at a press conference at Glasgow Central Mosque that brought together police, politicians and faith leaders. He said: “The stakes are incredibly high and we look to civic Scotland for solidarity. We call on the people of Scotland to unite with the Muslim community and not let the terrorists and racists divide us.

“The Muslim community have absolute confidence in the zero-tolerance of hate crime by Police Scotland.”

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said a number of cases reported to officers were a “direct result of what happened in Paris”.

Reporting based on reports from Scotsman, The National, Daily Record, BBC

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