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It's a myth that Scotland is an exception to anti-Muslim crimes; OPINION.

Byline: FIYAZ MUGHAL

ACTIVISTS, organisational leads and politicians came together on Tuesday to find ways of countering what many felt was a rising tide of anti-Muslim hatred in Scotland, much of which goes unreported.

The Scottish Cross Parliamentary Group on Tackling Islamophobia, chaired by Anas Sarwar, reverberated to the views of many - that little was being done at a governmental level to tackle anti-Muslim hatred.

It heard that lip service was consistently being paid to a view that there were no major issues of anti-Muslim hatred or Islamophobia in Scotland and that the main issue was around football violence and sectarianism.

I heard these same arguments time and time again when I met with leading politicians within the Scottish Government in 2013 and have heard them many times since.

The national project I founded, Tell MAMA, has found it far more difficult to make any headway on issues of countering anti-Muslim hatred in Scotland.

In England, there is more receptiveness and energy to counter this growing issue.

Who would have thought this would be the case? Scots politicians who are proud of repeating the "multiculturalism" of Edinburgh and Glasgow take heed - there is no hiding from the truth that such posturing is part of the problem and not the solution.

My view that Scottish exceptionalism was a major barrier to countering anti-Muslim hate was met with a series of nodding heads.

Tell MAMA is a nationally recognised third-party, hatecrime support and monitoring project with data-sharing agreements with 27 police forces out of 43.

Yet, Police Scotland have been one of the poorest forces in engaging with a data-sharing agreement that many other forces have signed up to.

This gives the impression that when it comes to being open and transparent, and being willing to engage on tackling anti-Muslim hatred, Scotland and its institutions sadly lags behind.

Once again, it came down to Scottish exceptionalism - that Scotland did not have the issues England had and that communities generally "got on with each other".

This was also compounded by self-congratulatory political statements which created a comfort zone for politicians who could make a difference to wallow in with pride.

Anas Sarwar's actions to do something about anti-Muslim hatred filled the room in the Scottish Parliament and brought out voices that rarely dissent. It also created an energy and desire to make change.

If the Scottish Government revert to the mantra of Scottish exceptionalism, expect the voices for change to get stronger and far more co-ordinated. ? Tell MAMA is a national hate crime support and monitoring service regarding anti-Muslim hatred. Go to tellmamauk.org

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NATIONAL PROJECT Fiyaz Mughal

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 2, 2018
Words:437
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