Racist messages spark Twitter hate crime probe

The Scottish Defence League says it wants to show its backing for UK troops. Picture: Robert Perry
The Scottish Defence League says it wants to show its backing for UK troops. Picture: Robert Perry
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Police are investigating reports of racially offensive Twitter messages as they appealed for calm in the wake of the Woolwich terror attack.

Officers have moved to reassure faith groups and have made visits to the Capital’s three main mosques at Potterrow, Blackhall and 
Annandale Street.

It comes as a number of allegedly racist and offensive tweets made by a user going by the handle @edininfidel were reported to the police. It is understood there were two complaints in response to tweets posted after the Woolwich terror attack on Wednesday last week.

Officers confirmed they were investigating the tweets, and said they were monitoring social networking sites.

PC Debbie Graham, co-ordinator of the city’s counter-terrorism strategy group, Edinburgh Contest, said: “Following the recent events in Woolwich, there is a potential for a rise in community tensions or hate crime – particularly in the Muslim community.

“From previous experience – Glasgow Airport – there is also potential for increases in hate crime or community tensions for other minority ethnic communities.”

In the six-point statement, PC Graham added: “We are aware that extremists or misguided individuals can use such incidents as an excuse for committing hate crimes.

“However, we hope to work with communities to identify such individuals quickly and deal with them robustly.”

Insisting police had a grip on the situation, PC Graham said black and minority ethnic communities were “safe to go about their lives as normal”.

The message, which said there was “no evidence” at this stage to link events in Woolwich with Scotland, was sent to partners of Edinburgh Contest and Score Scotland, a voluntary organisation serving the minority ethnic communities in the west of the city.

Foysol Choudhury, chairman of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council, said racist incidents had been reported to the group in the past week.

He said: “We have heard reports of people shouting racist comments. In one case, a man stopped at traffic lights in his car and a group of men standing by the road were gesturing at him. When he wound the window down they shouted racial abuse.

“Online, it seems people are taking advantage on blogs and forums to give Muslims and Asians abuse. They can hide behind the internet.

“No right thinking person would support what these men in Woolwich have done and we condemn it as much as anyone else.”

Anger as far-rightplans Holyrood demo

A PLANNED demonstration by far-right group the Scottish Defence League has been condemned by anti-fascist protesters. The SDL has announced plans to assemble outside the Scottish Parliament on Saturday in response to the Woolwich terror attack.

A spokesman for the group said the SDL is staging the action in support of British soldiers and to demand the government gives military personnel better protection.

But the action has been branded “despicable” by Unite Against Fascism Edinburgh, which has organised a counter-demonstration on the same day.

The UAF’s Luke Henderson said: “Unite Against Fascism Edinburgh sends its condolences to the family and friends of the soldier murdered in Woolwich. There can be no justification for such a terrible attack on an individual.

“Despicably, racist and fascist organisations such as the Scottish and English Defence Leagues are trying to use this tragedy to whip up racism and direct hatred against all Muslims.

“The Scottish Defence League has organised a protest to try to stir up trouble and racist violence in the wake of the Woolwich killing.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Clearly we are keen to speak to organisers and will liaise closely with our partners to manage any such events.”