The stabbings of six people, including a police officer who was in a critical condition in hospital yesterday, and the fatal shooting of the suspect by armed police in Glasgow had hardly finished before speculation about what had happened began on social media.
Armchair commentators were quick to put their own political spin on this horrific event despite lacking any knowledge whatsoever about what actually happened.
One of the worst offenders was Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who tweeted inaccurately that the hotel where the stabbing took place was “housing illegal immigrants” and that the number of “young men” crossing the English Channel was a “massive risk to our well-being”.
The fact that he did not know who was responsible for the stabbings – and that the actions of one individual should not be used to incite hatred against others – did not seem to concern him. It was merely an opportunity to whip up fear about migrants in much the same way as Donald Trump has done in the US.
Former Glasgow Labour MP Paul Sweeney was among those to point out that the hotel was home to a number of asylum seekers, who are not “illegal immigrants” but “people fleeing from the most brutal conditions in the world”. There was also a commendably robust response to Farage by many Glaswegians keen to point out that he did not speak for them or their city.
When thinking about such a serious incident, it should go without saying that it is extremely important to wait for the facts to be established, rather than jump to conclusions. Politicians who are concerned about the truth – and the majority are – know this.
In a statement, Nicola Sturgeon urged people to avoid speculation and to “not share potentially harmful or upsetting material on social media”. However she did talk about one thing we can say with certainty about what happened at the Park Inn in West George Street – that the officers who confronted the attacker demonstrated bravery of the highest order.
It was, the First Minister said, “another reminder of the courage and professionalism of our police officers who are willing to run towards danger in order to protect the lives of others”.
That same professionalism will now be used to establish the truth of what happened, and shame those eager to spread hate-filled lies.
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