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Issue 200, Friday 16 December 2005 - 15 Dhu al-Qa'dah 1426

Muslim Glaswegians under pressure post 9/11

By Elham Asaad Buaras

A study to help to an incoming Inter Faith Liaison Officer in Glasgow City Council has revealed that the city’s Muslim community “is perceived, by all faith groups surveyed, to be the group most under pressure” post September 11, 2001.
The study commissioned by the Executive and Glasgow City Council showed, “People wearing religious dress or symbols are a particular target.” The report released on November 14, and titled Faith Communities and Local Government in Glasgow: 2005 predicted the city faces a “destructive and unstable” future unless all religious groups work harder to ease tensions.
It called for action to tackle religious intolerance alongside existing initiatives fighting racism and sectarianism. “The attack on the World Trade Centre marked a turning point from predominantly racial intolerance and abuse towards more religiously motivated attacks.”
The research continued, “Faith groups, especially the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu focus groups reported that the situation in the city had deteriorated sharply since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001. One participant who has lived in the city for many years said ‘9/11 shook Glasgow’ (Muslim man).”
A spokesman for the Executive’s Equality Department told The Muslim News the findings could explain the why the Muslims questioned described their community as “not proactive”" in interfaith work. He added, “The most obvious reason is the pressure under which the Muslim community find themselves both on the streets in Glasgow and, according to them, in the media. They have a strong sense that even the British Government is demonising their faith community and this is fuelling Islamophobia in the city.
“One or two comments from focus group participants also suggest that the community have experienced people rebuffing their attempts to reach out; a sense that others put up barriers when they try to contribute.”
Examples of Islamophobic attacks in Glasgow post September 11, 2001, include Glasgow’s Central Mosque having its windows smashed, a day after the New York attacks, a Muslim woman on a bus was hit on the head with a glass bottle, again by a white man shouting “you Muslim bastard.”
The spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council Equalities and Scottish Labour Councillor for Victoria Ward, told The Muslim News, “We have charted an increase in reports of Islamophobia post 7/7, particularly verbal abuse, but it won’t be the work of the interfaith liaison officer to set up an anti-Islamophobia policy. That would be down to the Council.”
The latest incident was on November 5, where around 40 Asians who had gone to watch boxer Amir Khan, were forced to flee Glasgow’s Braehead arena after bottles and coins were thrown at them by racists who also made monkey chants and Nazi salutes.

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