Islamophobia and anti-semitism upsurge in Scotland

THERE has been a “worrying upsurge” in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Scotland due to the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Gaza, it has been warned.

Reverend John Chalmers says work must be done to tackle 'unhealthy prejudice'. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Reverend John Chalmers says work must be done to tackle 'unhealthy prejudice'. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

In a statement released today, the Church of Scotland said it was joining in the condemnation of the attacks on the Jewish and Muslim communities along with the Muslim Council of Britain and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (Scojec).

In recent weeks the first minister, lord advocate and chief constable have all asked to meet with Scojec to discuss what the organisation called an “unprecedented number of unambiguously anti-Semitic incidents”.

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The Church of Scotland said it was “deeply troubled” to learn that anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents were on the rise.

Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said: “There can be no excuse for hate, for racism, violence, intimidation or the targeting of people because of the faith they practice. Lazy, unhelpful stereotypes and prejudiced, unkind behaviour demean us all.

“We must do all we can to make sure that we do not conflate extremist behaviour in Iraq with Islam, nor political policies in Israel with Judaism.”

Last month, Scojec said it had received roughly the same number of reports of anti-Semitic incidents in one week as it had in the whole of 2013.

Incidents that were reported to the police included threatening phone-calls, e-mails, and graffiti on synagogues.

The Rt Rev John Chalmers, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “We need to work together to raise awareness and offer support to people who find themselves under pressure because of wholly unacceptable, unhealthy prejudice. We must stand with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, and commit to modelling good relationships as a way to move past mere tolerance and towards a peaceful partnership which has all of Scotland’s people at its heart.”