A PROMINENT Muslim “Yes” campaigner today warns that Scotland is “not so hugely different” from England that it will escape the Islamophobic tensions that have escalated south of the Border.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a Yes Scotland board member, says Scotland should not be complacent in its battle to tackle religious hatred.
Writing in today’s Scotland on Sunday, Ahmed-Sheikh argues that the religious intolerance experienced in England could spill into Scotland in an article responding to last week’s official statistics revealing that Islamophobic charges had risen from 19 in 2011/12 to 80 in 2012/13.
“We are not so hugely different or distant from England that the intolerance we have seen down south in recent weeks cannot spill into Scotland. Indeed, organisations like the SDL will do everything they can to encourage that,” she writes. Ahmed-Sheikh applauds the SNP government’s determination to head off racism and Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham’s declaration that prejudice will not be tolerated in Scotland.
Yesterday opponents of the Yes campaign seized on Ahmed-Sheikh’s views, suggesting they did not chime with SNP rhetoric that Scotland’s values were different to those south of the Border.
Figures such as Alex Salmond and Blair Jenkins, the Yes Scotland leader, have made much of the concept of “Scottish values” to back up their arguments for independence. According to Salmond, an independent Scotland would reflect “Scottish values” of fairness, opportunity, promoting equality and social cohesion. Yes Scotland’s opponents have claimed that independence leaders have been guilty of attempting to give the spurious impression that Scotland has a unique set of values which differ from those held elsewhere in the UK.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “This is a welcome recognition from a senior figure in the SNP – that despite what many of her party colleagues have claimed – people in Scotland have a similar outlook on life as the other inhabitants of the United Kingdom. It is nauseating to hear politicians claim some sort of moral superiority of opinions here in Scotland.”
A Yes Scotland spokesman said: “We agree with Tasmina. Scots and English share very many of the same core values, but we have different priorities as reflected in the different approach we have adopted on issues such as free personal care and would adopt on the damaging welfare changes being introduced by Westminster.”