Scotland

Online abusers accuse Scottish lawyer of being Barcelona plotter

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Media captionAamer Anwar: "I am a Muslim and my community has no immunity from the bombs, from the bullets."

Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar has spoken of the "horrific abuse" he received online after speaking about being caught up in the Barcelona attack.

Thirteen people died when a van hit crowds in the Las Ramblas area.

Mr Anwar, who was in the city for a conference, said online abusers had wished him dead.

He told the BBC: "[There was] all sorts of vitriolic abuse about me being a Muslim, being part of the plot, the planner."

The rector of Glasgow University said that he would not normally respond but he felt he needed "to call it out" this time.

'Wishing I was dead'

He explained: "I have been the victim of hatred by the far right. Tommy Robinson, the ex leader of the English Defence League called me out, claimed I was an ISIS lawyer which is complete and utter lies and following that there has been several hundred online abuse by many people wishing that I was dead, people wishing I had been there 10 seconds earlier."

Mr Anwar added: "I am a Muslim and I have said for many years that my community has no immunity from the bombs, from the bullets, from people who drive vans into crowds. I was caught up in it and for some reason they just don't want to accept that."

He believed that the solution was to "stand together".

Mr Anwar said: "Every race, creed and religion was represented on Las Ramblas - 34 countries from which the victims came, from the age of three to the age of 80 - and then to be subjected to such horrific abuse."

However, the father-of-three said he had been heartened by the support he had received from people throughout the UK.

He told BBC Breakfast: "[It] has been absolutely amazing, thousands and thousands of people providing support and standing up and saying this is wrong, it is not the solution.

"What makes things better is compassion, what makes things better is humanity. They are not clich├ęs, that is the only way forward and I saw that the next day I went back to Las Ramblas.

" I was there when the first candle was laid and for me that defiance, that spirit, that unity, that solidarity is what we saw in Manchester, what we saw in London, what we saw in Barcelona."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the abuse as "sickening".

On social media she said that Mr Anwar's "dignity stands in contrast to their hatred".

A hunt for the driver who killed the 13 people in last week's attack has been extended across Europe, Catalan officials say.

Authorities say they cannot rule out the possibility that he has slipped across the border to France.

New CCTV footage appears to show the man, who has not been named, fleeing the scene of the attack on foot.

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