THE BLOG

An Open Letter to the Muslim Community

20/11/2015 12:17 GMT | Updated 19/11/2016 10:12 GMT

I wish I had a more healing way to say it, but simply, I'm sorry.

On behalf of the ignorant racists in this country and across the world, I'm really so very sorry.

I'm horrified by the blatant racism and ignorance you've had to deal with since the Paris attacks. Attacks by bad men, that neither you or I know how to stop. Bad men who want to divide us. It's horrendous that so many innocent lives were lost. But I take it in, and compartmentalise it - it's so sad and very scary, but bad men did that. Most people don't kill. Most people don't hate. Most people are loving and fair. Aren't they?

But then I look at the blatant racism that's being directed at your community since the attacks. And it's not 'bad men' that are doing it. It's the mum on the bus who won't let her child sit next to a young Asian boy. It's on social media from people I thought were good and rational people. It's on the news, with ignorant reporters (yes CNN and Fox, I mean you) purposefully touting hate and misinformation. And it embarrasses me and hurts me. I can't imagine how it makes you feel. Scared? Angry? Frustrated? Marginalised? All of the above and more?

Following the Paris attacks, the Scottish Muslim community led by Glasgow Central Mosque was swift in its unconditional condemnation of the horrific and barbaric attacks carried out by ISIS in the name of Islam, while all over Scotland Muslims joined in prayers and solidarity with the people of Paris.

On each and every occasion a terrorist attack takes place, the Muslim community is called on to publicly condemn the actions of a few, which they do without fail. But why should they have to? Of course people condemn people being killed. What does their religious persuasion or skin colour have to do with it? Yet following the terror attacks in Paris, in Scotland we have seen an increase in attacks both physical and verbal and online against Scottish Muslims.

On Sunday night, 53 year-old Mohammed Khalid, owner of a takeway in Methil, Fife was hospitalised after being subjected to a viscous attack by a mob of fifteen as they shouted ISIS. He had owned the local takeaway for 25 years.

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On Monday an Islamic Cultural Centre in Bishopbriggs was torched in the early hours in a suspected hate crime. Scotland's only Muslim minister Humza Yousaf has been subjected to online Islamophobia and racism. Police Scotland has announced an increase in crimes motivated by religious hatred since the Paris attacks.

My friend was travelling to work this morning, when a woman with young kids grabbed her son from the other side of the bus, simply because a young Asian boy got on and sat beside him. She snatched her son and said 'you're not sitting next to him.' The young boy apologised to the mum. He apologised, for being racially harassed. I am ashamed that that happened in my country. My friend was stuck at the back of the bus or else she would have gone down and sat next to him.

About 100 Syrian refugees arrived in Glasgow yesterday - the largest group to arrive since the government expanded its resettlement scheme in September. The group - mainly families - arrived at Glasgow Airport on the first of a series of charter flights expected in coming weeks. They are due to be resettled by local authorities across Scotland. Scottish MSP Humza Yousaf said it was "a proud day for Scotland", which he said offered "the warmest of welcomes". I welcome the Syrian refugees with open arms. Social media sadly tells a different story. I wish the refugees safety and hope they resettle in well.

To everyone in this country with skin that's darker than mine (I'm Scottish, it's not hard) - whether you're British, Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish, whatever, regardless of your religious persuasions - I'm so sorry you're being treated like this. I'll gladly sit beside you, and my kids will too.

I implore the people of the UK to unite in solidarity with the Muslim community and not let the racists and terrorists divide us. In the meantime, to the Muslim community, please accept my apologies.

I am sorry.