CAIRO - The rise in anti-Muslim offences in Scotland is raising concerns among government officials and prompting calls for serious efforts to combat Islamophobia in the country.
"Any form of attack or discrimination based on the assumption of someone's religion, race or cultural background is completely unacceptable," Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham told The Herald Scotland."While the decrease in both racist and religiously aggravated offending are to be welcomed, it is concerning to note the rise in charges directed towards the Islamic community and towards those with disabilities."
Muslims Become Scapegoats in Woolwich
An annual statistic about hate crimes showed a rise in assaults against Muslims in Scotland.
The statistic from the Offensive Behavior Act showed a 15 percent reduction in offences involving religious hatred in the past year.
However, it found that anti-Muslim charges and those relating to disabled people rose compared to the previous year.
It calculated 80 anti-Muslim charges in the past year, compared to just 19 the previous year.
The majority of these attacks, 57 incidents, were reported against the Scottish Defence League (SDL).
"It is encouraging to see a 12% drop in charges motivated by racial prejudice and a 15% reduction for criminality involving religious hatred, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said in comments on the reports.
"There is no place for complacency and I hope the downward trend continues in the coming years."
Government officials have reaffirmed commitment to tackling racial and religious hatred and all forms of prejudice.
"Scotland is a country which does not tolerate racial or religious prejudice and we are a nation where people of all faiths and none can live in peace," Cunningham said.
"This is borne out by today's figures - we are not becoming more intolerant as a society, but we are becoming less tolerant of those who hold prejudiced beliefs.
"The firm action taken against the SDL and what appears to be increased reporting of crimes against people on the basis of disability or sexual orientation confirms that zero tolerance approach."
The findings have prompted calls for serious efforts to fight Islamophobia in Scotland.
"We need serious work at community level and with trade unions to deal with the problem of the SDL venting their racist views in public - especially with recent events following the shocking murder of soldier Lee Ribgy and right-wing attempts to fan the flames of Islamophobia," Rob O'Donnell of Glasgow Hope not Hate told Morning Star newspaper.
Margaret Woods, GCWR [Gross combined weight rating] trade union coordinator, echoed a similar call.
"The drop in race crimes is welcome, no question about it, but fascists are targeting immigrants.
"We have serious concerns about the extent of Islamophobia and attempts to hold demos by the SDL."
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.
The Scottish Defence League (SDL) is an offshoot division of the anti-Islam, racist group English Defence League.In 2009, the Sunday Herald revealed links between the SDL and the British National Party though both groups have publicly tried to distance themselves from each other.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net