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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar urges cross-party unity to tackle Islamophobia in Scotland

© Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto/ShutterstockScottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar
Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is urging cross-party co-operation to secure the recommendations of a landmark report exposing Islamophobia in Scotland.

Sarwar has written to the first minister asking for a detailed response to the study, published last week, which found racism against Muslims living in Scotland has escalated.

Verbal and physical assaults have intensified, especially on public transport, with four fifths of Muslims living in Scotland saying they had experienced Islamophobia.

The inquiry, set up in 2018 at the request of a cross-party group of MSPs tasked with tackling Islamophobia, and produced by Newcastle University professor Peter Hopkins, sets out 45 recommendations.

Now former Glasgow Central MP Sarwar, chairman of the group, has challenged first minister Nicola Sturgeon to explain what the Scottish Government will do in response.

In his letter to Sturgeon, he says: “The report makes for very difficult reading, but I hope you can find the time to digest it.

“As hard as it is to read, imagine what it is like for our fellow Scots who face the hatred detailed in its pages every single day.”

Sarwar said the cross-party group will produce an annual progress report on the implementation of the recommendations and added he would be happy to meet and work with the first minister on the issue.

Zara Mohammed: For Scots Muslims, report on Islamophobia came as no surprise but the sheer scale of it still shocked

The Scottish Government said: “We are committed to tackling hate crime and prejudice, including Islamophobia in all its forms, and we will carefully consider this inquiry’s recommendations.

“New hate crime laws will provide the police and courts with additional powers so those who would deliberately target others due to their religion or other characteristics can be prosecuted.”

The recommendations

Tackling Islamophobia report published last week has more than 40 recommendations, including:

  • Work towards adopting a formal definition of Islamophobia to promote understanding, to encourage reporting and to indicate a commitment to addressing it.
  • Actively support initiatives to recruit more officers from within Scotland’s diverse communities, including Muslim officers, into Police Scotland.
  • Require all local authorities, schools, and Police Scotland to ensure all officers are provided with high-quality training on countering Islamophobia.
  • Fund and support organisations and initiatives that promote social cohesion and integration.
  • Promote and encourage the reporting of Islamophobic incidents.
  • Integrate an understanding of Islamophobia into compulsory components of education curricula.
  • Pay specific attention to issues relating to ethnic and religious health inequalities, employment experiences and poverty.