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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
13 October 2023
‘Your grief is my grief,’ Humza Yousaf tells family of Scot killed in Israel

Humza Yousaf consoles the mother of Bernard Cowan | Eloise Bishop/SCoJeC

‘Your grief is my grief,’ Humza Yousaf tells family of Scot killed in Israel

Humza Yousaf has told the family of a Scot who was killed on Saturday during the Hamas attacks in Israel “your grief is my grief”. 

The first minister attended a service of solidarity at Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue alongside the mother of Bernard Cowan and more than 500 members of the community, parliamentarians, civic and faith leaders.

Yousaf and Cowan’s mother were pictured embracing each other during the service.

Posting to social media, the first minister wrote: “Bernard's mother and family went out of their way to tell me that they would be praying for my family in Gaza. We hugged, we cried, and we promised to re-dedicate ourselves to peace and to be unequivocal; no innocent man, woman, or child should pay the price of another's actions.”  

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) described the first minister’s words during the service as powerful.  

Yousaf, whose wife’s family are currently in Gaza, said: “I stand in solidarity with Scotland's Jewish community, who have lost members of their community in the senseless and horrific attacks we witnessed last Saturday in Southern Israel.  

“I want to send my condolences to the victims and the families of all those affected by this desperate situation. At a time of great sorrow and sadness, I want you to be in no doubt whatsoever that I, and the government I lead, stand with you and with all communities who are mourning the loss of innocent life.”

East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald told the Jewish community in attendance “we are with you”. 

She said: “Our local area and our whole country is enriched in so many and varied ways because of our Jewish communities. But that same community is now in shock. Hurting and heartsore, and worried about family in Israel, about friends, and about what comes next as innocent lives are lost to the awful terror and violence. 

“We are with you, we share in your worry and your sorrow, and we are here to support you.” 

Speaking to Five News today, Yousaf said he was “disappointed” and “angry” that the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had not been in touch regarding the situation in Gaza or the that of Scots in Israel. Yousaf said he has been in contact with a junior minister from the Foreign Office.   

He added that it is “disappointing” that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not contacted him, but said: “I accept the prime minister has lots to do and to get on with.”   

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