Glasgow & West Scotland

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar receives death threats

Aamer Anwar

Police are investigating death threats made against human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar.

Mr Anwar, who lives in Glasgow, said he received the threats after calling for unity within Scotland's Muslim community.

He said he was taking the threats from "fanatics" extremely seriously.

Last Thursday Mr Anwar chaired an event he organised at Hampden Park calling for unity and condemning violence and extremism.

He said it was first time Ahmadiya, Sunni Imam and Pakistani Christians had been on same platform together.

His comments were made in the wake of the killing of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah, 40, and recent terror attacks in Brussels and Lahore.

'Climate of fear'

Mr Anwar said: "Having been a campaigner for human rights for over 25 years, I have grown used to the bile and hatred directed at me, sadly that is par for the course.

"On occasion when I have had my life seriously threatened, I have informed the police but have always chosen to keep it private.

"On this occasion I could no longer remain silent, because of a small minority who believe they can silence me by creating a climate of fear."

The lawyer said that over the last few weeks "abuse and hatred" had been whipped up on social media, and he had received calls in the middle of the night.

"I hold these people directly responsible for creating an atmosphere which has given some the confidence to make threats to my life," he said.

'Tackling hatred'

"With a young family I could be forgiven if I had chosen to shut up and walk away. The pressure from the community, friends and family to protect myself from the fanatics has been enormous.

"It is a terrifying and deeply lonely place to be when you say goodbye to your children and wonder if it is for the last time, but the death of Asad Shah should be a wake-up call to our community that we must not be silenced.

"Our so-called community leaders must do much more, they have avoided tackling hatred to preserve their status and that is deeply shameful and hypocritical."

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: "We can confirm that police are investigating these threats and our inquiries are continuing."

Mr Anwar has taken on a number of high-profile cases including representing the families of Fife man Sheku Bayoh, who died in police custody, and murdered Indian waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar.

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