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Third of Scottish Muslims say Islamophobia is an 'everyday issue'

Holyrood

Third of Scottish Muslims say Islamophobia is an 'everyday issue'

Over 83 per cent of Muslims who took part in an 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, a public inquiry into the issue has found.

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

Nearly four-fifths of those surveyed also feel that anti-Muslim bigotry in Scotland is getting worse.

The public inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland was launched by the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia.

Research was gathered in conjunction with Newcastle University, with analyses provided by Professor Peter Hopkins.

A total of 435 people submitted written responses, with 344 describing their faith as Muslim.

Of the total number of respondents, 42.8 per cent were women and 55.6 per cent were men.

Particular attention was drawn by respondents to the abuse that Muslim women are subjected to in public, especially if they wear hijab or other Muslim dress.

Asked about the impact of the media on Islamophobia, almost 90 per cent said that newspapers make it worse while over 86 per cent said the same for TV and radio.

In general, the report notes, there is a fear that Muslim children and young people will grow up in a society that “increasingly marks them as outsiders and increasingly abuses them”.

Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP and chair of the cross-party group on Tackling Islamophobia, said: “The early findings following the launch of this public inquiry make for sobering reading.

“We pride ourselves on being a welcome and tolerant country, but this 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.

“We have already established that Scotland is not immune from Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred, and now we know just how widespread it is.

“These findings will be used in the next stage of the inquiry, in which we must redouble efforts to challenge and overcome hatred and prejudice.

“This requires politicians to come together on a cross-party basis, because the fight against hate is a fight for all of us.

"We need to come together to address this. Education is the key to defeating prejudice and discrimination, but we also need to build a more diverse workforce and work harder to bring communities together."

Professor Peter Hopkins of Newcastle University, who has been researching issues of racism and Islamophobia in Scotland for nearly 20 years, 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.

“There is a lot of work to do - across many different sectors - in order to address the problem of Islamophobia in contemporary Scotland.”

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