Scotland

Jews and Muslims in 'landmark' stand against hate crime

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Jewish and Muslim community leaders have joined forces in a "landmark" challenge to hate crime in Scotland.

The Muslim Council of Scotland and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities said they were determined to address Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

They have published a list of aims that includes challenging hate online and prejudicial reporting by the media.

The Scottish government is currently reviewing hate crime legislation in Scotland.

The two faith groups said they wanted to help shape future laws on the issue and have unveiled a "communique" which also sets out plans for a Muslim/Jewish Women's Network and calls for a "culturally sensitive" and "faith specific" social care service.

The statement adds: "We stand together determined to end the hatred and extremism that affects us all.

"It was hatred and extremism that led to the murder of 11 members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh in the United States and the terror attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque in London.

"There have been Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks on mosques and synagogues here at home, and we should never be blind to the fact that racism, intolerance and prejudice exists in Scotland."

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Glasgow MSP, Anas Sarwar, who is chair of the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia, said: "This is a landmark communique, bringing together communities to work together to address Islamophobia and anti-Semitism."

He added: "We can't leave the fight against anti-Semitism to the Jewish community, and we can't leave the fight against Islamophobia to the Muslim community. This is a collective fight for all of us."

'Othering'

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said it was an opportunity for the communities to discuss their shared experience in facing prejudice.

He added: "History has taught us that racism and religious hatred might start by targeting a single community, but it never ends there, so it is in the interests of us all to stand shoulder to shoulder to demonstrate that 'othering', discrimination, and hatred are never acceptable."

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According to statistics published in May 2018, there were a total of 5,708 hate crime charges in Scotland in 2016-17, including 3,349 racial, 673 religious, 1,075 LGB, 40 transgender and 188 disability hate crimes.

Hate crime aggravations apply when someone is convicted of an offence, such as assault or breach of the peace, which involves hostility based on one of the protected characteristics.

Representatives from both faith groups will attend a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia at Holyrood on Tuesday.