Paris attacks: Scotland holds minute’s silence

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NICOLA Sturgeon has stressed than any hate crime in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris is “totally unacceptable”.

The First Minister made the comments as people in Scotland and throughout Europe observed one minute of silence for the victims of the massacre in the French capital.

The SNP leader was at Glasgow Central Mosque for the tribute, held the day before a group of refugees from Syria are scheduled to arrive in Scotland.

She said: “These people are fleeing the terror of Isis, that’s why as a community and in co-operation with other countries we have a part to play in dealing with the refugee crisis.”

Ms Sturgeon, who had earlier chaired another Scottish Government Resilience meeting, also stressed the refugees coming to the UK through the Syrian Vulnerable Peoples Relocation Scheme have “undergone stringent security checks”.

• READ MORE: Paris attacks: Police Scotland note rise in hate crimes

While the overall threat level to the UK is now ranked as “severe”, Ms Sturgeon stressed: “People in Scotland remain safe to go about their day-to-day business.

“Police Scotland is advising people to be alert but not alarmed, and to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour.

“There is absolutely no place for bigotry and prejudice in Scotland and this government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in 21st-century Scotland.”

The First Minister visited the mosque with Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Europe minister Humza Yousaf.

“I urge people not to let these terrorists win by dividing us and driving a wedge between the multi-cultural society Scotland is home to,” she said.

“We are stronger when united and that is one of our strengths.

“We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance.

“These people are fleeing their homes in the search for protection and security, and we are their refuge. We cannot let the actions of the few destroy the safety of the many.”

Flags at Scottish Government buildings and at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh were flown at half mast as a mark of respect for those that lost their lives.

• READ MORE: Paris attacks: Scotland pays tribute

Ms Sturgeon added: “The minute’s silence that has been observed in Scotland and across Europe is a clear indication that we all stand in solidarity with France and are thinking of that proud nation at this moment.

“We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to the people of France and all those affected, and we are doing everything possible to provide support for those caught up in this barbaric act.”

She added: “It was important today, not just in Scotland but across the UK and across Europe, that we came together to have a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the Paris attacks.

“It was important to me personally to do that here at Glasgow Central Mosque because I have seen with my own eyes in the aftermath of past terrorist atrocities that our Muslim community often feel a double burden: they feel the same shock and horror and revulsion that we do, but they’ve also got to cope with knowing that there are some who would point the finger of blame at them and in truth although these terrorists seek to claim that they are carrying out these atrocities in the name of Islam, they’re not, what they do is a perversion of the values and teachings of Islam.”

The First Minister praised Scotland’s Muslims as a “valued and integral part of our society” and added: “I think it’s important we stand united as a community.

“The terrorists want to destroy us, they want to see our way of life destroyed and an important rebuke to them is to say ‘we are going to stay united and continue to value the same freedoms and way of life that we always have done’.”