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Scotland Rebuffs Far-Right Rhetoric

Published: 30/09/2012 12:18:58 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Rejecting far right anti-Islam rhetoric, Scotland anti-fascist groups have staged a protest against a far-right march, rejecting it as a mere trial to capitalize on Muslims' rage and simmering racial tensions followin (more)

CAIRO - Rejecting far right anti-Islam rhetoric, Scotland anti-fascist groups have staged a protest against a far-right march, rejecting it as a mere trial to capitalize on Muslims' rage and simmering racial tensions following the release of defamatory anti-Islam film.

"People are here today to show that the streets of Edinburgh belong to all our diverse communities, and that these communities help keep our cities vibrant," Luke Henderson, co-ordinator for Unite Against Fascism, told Scotland Herald.

Henderson, along with three hundred protesters, marched from the City Chambers on the Royal Mile to the Parliament on Saturday, September 29, against a planned far-right march by Scottish Defence League (SDL).

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The SDL protest was planned amid Muslim fury over an American-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad.

The film triggered protests in several countries around the world, which left scores of people dead, including the US ambassador in Libya.

The counter protest took to the streets of Edinburgh against a march for an estimated 70 to 80 members of the far-right extremist groups.

"Things are happening now because the latest form of racism, Islamophobia, is becoming more widespread,” Henderson, a left-wing opponent of the SDL, said.

"Racism continues to change and be re-invented. A hundred years ago it was the Irish who were the focus, it has moved through Jews, black people and now Muslims.

“The outrage that rightly greeted John Terry's racist comments on the football pitch shows racists need to modify and cloak their ideas so they now talk about white culture, Christian identity and multiculturalism,” he added.

Nicola Fisher, chairwoman of the Stop the War Coalition and an UAF, said far-right was stoking hatred against Muslims to justify attacking Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It has been deliberate propaganda from successive government and some areas of the press, against Muslims," she said.

Financial problems, including cuts and austerity measures, were also used by the far-right to stoke anti-immigrant sentiments.

"People are encouraged to look at other communities and to look at refugees and asylum seekers and a lot of them might be Muslim,” she said.

"And they think, 'there is not enough money for us, there is not enough housing - why are these people getting it?' instead of looking to the rich to see how their wealth could be redistributed.”

Love The Prophet

On the other side of the country, a Love The Prophet peaceful rally was held to protest against the controversial film.

“I believe that religions should be respected,” the Imam echoed round Glasgow city centre and more than 1000 Muslim voices replied together.

During the peaceful rally in front of the City Chambers, people of all ages held placards reading "No To Inequality" and "Without feelings and respect, how can we distinguish between man and beasts?"

“We feel angry because this is shame for others to insult others,” Abdul Almatooq, 50, who attended with his two young sons, said.

“Islam encourages you to live peacefully with others.”

Organized by the Muslim Council of Scotland, the protest was attended by speakers from all faiths, as well as politicians who backed calls for removing the video from the internet and for passing laws that prevent the insult or vilification of religion.

Attendants included Scottish National Party lawmaker Humza Yousaf, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Councilor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, and speakers from the Islamic, Catholic, Sikh and Church of Scotland faiths.

"It is giving fuel to those who hate Muslims for some reason, to go on and do some silly activities," Dr Salah Beltagui of the Muslim Council of Scotland said.

"We have had many attacks on mosques and things, especially after an event like this and a publication like this."

Not only Muslims.

The protest was attended by a number of Glasgow non-Muslims who rejected the inflammatory message of the film.

"I am here to support the Muslims - I believe that religions should be respected,” said Bernard Elliot, 61, from Dennistoun, calling himself "a friend of Islam”.

"You can't treat Muslims like this, it is not civilized."

Councilor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, attacked the anti-Islam video, accusing its makers of inciting divisions.

"Glasgow City Council was the first council in the UK to condemn the war in Iraq. Glasgow City Council was the first council to ban the march by the Scottish Defence League,” he said.

“I can announce that Glasgow City Council will be the first council in the UK at our next council meeting to bring forward a motion condemning the creation of the video which was clearly created to incite division."

Scotland is home to more than 500,000 Muslims, making up less than one percent of the population.Muslims are the second largest religious group in Scotland, which has thirty mosques.

Reproduced with permission from