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Islamophobia ‘an everyday issue’ in Scotland

16th Jul 2021

Anas Sarwar, leader of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.
(Credit: Scottish Labour/Flickr)

Hamed Chapman

Over 83 per cent of Muslims in Scotland who took part in the Scottish Parliamentary inquiry said that they had experienced Islamophobia, with verbal abuse at work or online being the most common form.

Islamophobia is an “everyday issue” for more than a third of Muslims in Scotland, it found. Nearly four-fifths of those surveyed also feel that anti-Muslim bigotry in the country is getting worse.

A public inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland was launched by the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia, setting an example for the other parts of the UK to follow.

Using a definition of Islamophobia endorsed by all parties in the Scottish Parliament, written submissions were made from 435 people responding to such issues as the abuse Muslim women were subjected to, especially regarding their dress, as well as, being asked about the impact made by the media.

“Growing up in Glasgow as the son of Britain’s first Muslim Member of Parliament, I witnessed abhorrent racism aimed at my family, my friends, and the Scots Asian community,” said Chair of the cross-party group, Anas Sarwar.

“When I chose to enter public service, first as a dentist and then as a politician, I continued to face racism – including in the 2017 Scottish Labour leadership election. Racism from within my own political party,” the Scottish Labour leader said in a forward to the report.

He said that Scotland prides itself on being a “welcome and tolerant count” but that the early findings make a “sobering reading” and demonstrates “how much more work we have to do.”

“There are people in Scotland who feel scared to leave their homes for fear of verbal of physical attack; are withdrawing from public services with devastating knock-on consequences on their health and education; and feel they are outsiders in their own country, this should shame us all.”

Professor Peter Hopkins of Newcastle University, who produced the report, said, “The initial findings emerging from the inquiry demonstrate that Scotland has a serious issue when it comes to everyday racism and Islamophobia.”

“Those who suffer Islamophobic abuse are often left feeling fearful, anxious and worried, with nearly 80 per cent feeling that the situation is getting worse,” warned the Professor, who has been researching issues of racism and Islamophobia in Scotland for nearly 20 years.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told The Muslim News it was “committed to tackling hate crime and prejudice, including Islamophobia in all its forms, and we will carefully consider this inquiry’s recommendations. We will develop a new hate crime strategy later this year in consultation with stakeholders.

As part of this, we will consider the need to define Islamophobia, including consideration of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group’s definition,” the spokesperson said.

 

 

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