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Islamophobia “an everyday issue” for Scottish Muslims

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Report for Holyrood inquiry suggests rising levels of discrimination and intolerance.

Islamophobia is an “everyday issue” for more than a third of Muslims in Scotland, a public inquiry has revealed.

The nationwide survey found that 83.4% of Scottish Muslims had experience Islamophobia, with 78.8% saying the problem was getting worse.

Two thirds stated they had been verbally abused, while six in ten had changed their behaviours as a result of intolerance.

Around a third said they had faced Islamophobia in the workplace, and a similar number had been abused on social media over their faith.

On the causes of Islamophobia, 93.9% said print media fanned the flames of intolerance, 90.4% said the same for broadcast media, and 88.7% believed social media had led to rising hatred.

The investigation heard from Muslims who had been spat at by strangers, verbally abused in front of their young children, and had their hijabs pulled off.

Others said they had shaved beards or even changed their names to avoid discrimination.

Around 500 responses were received for the inquiry, which was led by Holyrood’s cross-party group (CPG) on Islamophobia and a team from Newcastle University.

Labour MSP and group convener Anas Sarwar said: “There are people in Scotland who feel scared to leave their homes for fear of verbal of physical attack, are withdrawing from public services with devastating knock-on consequences on their health and education, and feel they are outsiders in their own country. This should shame us all.

“These findings will now be used in the next stage of the inquiry, in which we must redouble efforts to challenge and overcome hatred and prejudice.”

Professor Peter Hopkins of Newcastle University, added: “The initial findings emerging from the inquiry demonstrate that Scotland has a serious issue when it comes to everyday racism and Islamophobia.

“Those who suffer Islamophobic abuse are often left feeling fearful, anxious and worried, with nearly 80% feeling that the situation is getting worse.

“There is a lot of work to do - across many different sectors - in order to address the problem of Islamophobia in contemporary Scotland.”

Following the inquiry’s publication, Muslim Council of Scotland executive member Linsay Taylor spoke about the discrimination she had faced.

“About four years ago I started to wear the hijab full-time, and that’s when I noticed a sharp rise in abuse,” she said.

“Things like people muttering under their breath as they walk past, refusing to sit near you on public transport. I’ve been spat at on the street – I was with my mum when that happened.

“I was born and raised in Scotland, I was raised to be very tolerant to and understand that everybody has a right to be who they want to be and to practice their faith and lifestyle in the way they want.

“The fact that Scotland isn’t quite as like that as we’d hope is really upsetting, because I always thought Scotland was very tolerant.”



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