Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

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

© Andrew CawleyZara Mohammed, General Secretary of Muslim Council
Zara Mohammed, General Secretary of Muslim Council

Being born and raised in Glasgow, it wasn’t until I put my headscarf on that I felt “the cold edge of people” in what I had always considered a warm and friendly city.

For many Muslims, an inquiry finding Islamophobia in Scotland is no surprise but the sheer scale of the problem had the power to shock. The report found that 83% of respondents had faced Islamophobia directly in education, employment, healthcare, security and media reporting.

Much of this Islamophobia has been cited as happening on public transport.

I know of a Muslim woman, alone with her child on the bus, who faced racial slurs and was told she was “taking our space”. There are even more stories about young Muslims being rejected from employment because they “didn’t look the part” or some that didn’t even get an interview because of their foreign name.

Sadly, Islamophobia is played out in the playground with young Muslim boys and girls bullied for their faith especially when there is some negative story about Islam and Muslims in the news.

While there are many reasons this is happening, among the most prominent are the negative stereotypes and tropes perpetuated by the media.

Many who have never met a Muslim already have this view that Muslims are not quite part of society, suspicious and still to prove themselves. Much of Islamophobia is also hard to report because of its institutional nature; the inability to get a job or being part of some of the poorest communities in the UK.

Zara the First: Young Scot on becoming first female to lead influential Muslim organisation and her debt to another inspirational woman close to home

Why Islamophobia happens can not be simplified, it is a multi-layered issue that requires meaningful action from all parts of society.

So where do we go from here? The report has more than 45 recommendations with the vast majority around education.

It is so important that schools create space for better understanding of difference as well as zero tolerance for discrimination. Teachers need to acknowledge that Islamophobia is real and needs to be responded to.

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

The Scottish Government must now show leadership – adopting a definition of Islamophobia is a good place to start – and begin to consider a real framework for tackling the issue beyond words. There is a call in the report for better media reporting and accuracy as this has been a big factor in the damaging portrayal of Muslims and now is the time for Muslims to be shown in a light that reflects the true diversity and achievement of our communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the great efforts by faith communities and places of worship in supporting the most vulnerable and destitute.

More than 50,000 health workers in our NHS across the UK are Muslims. It is these stories we need to hear.

Finally, every minority community has faced such challenges and we have overcome them together. To build a truly inclusive, diverse Scotland, one that gives all young people equal opportunities, requires meaningful partnership.

I have every hope this report will not reflect our values as a society in the years ahead and that we can, and will, come together to overcome these problems.

Zara Mohammed is secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain