Scotland and terror: some cautious thoughts

(c) Sky News

I’m not going to tempt fate and say we won’t see anything like the London Bridge attack here. I’m just going to present some information which I first wrote two years ago after the Manchester attack and which I think we should all be aware of.

Before, I do that, I know we have lots of racists and Islamophobes in Scotland. I know there was an attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007. That was 12 years ago, it’s worth remembering. I know two young Scots went to join ISIS. It was only 2 though out of 600 Britons. I know a Glasgow Muslim shopkeeper was murdered but that was by an English Muslim. If I’ve missed something out, please add it below.

First, see this extract from a Scottish Government research survey in 2011

‘In addition, Hussain and Miller (2004) argue that Muslims in Scotland are more likely to identify themselves as Scottish than Muslims in England are to identify as English (Hussain and Miller 2004, 2006). In their study, comparing experiences of Islamophobia and Anglophobia in Scotland, Hussain and Miller established that the Muslims interviewed found it very easy to identify with Scotland. They suggest this could be explained partly because their religious identity is seen as cultural and not territorial. This finding is supported by research conducted by Masud (2005) into the experiences of Muslims across Britain after the London bombings in 2005. In this research conducted across Scotland 27“it was widely acknowledged and appreciated that compared with other parts of the country, especially England, Scotland was a tolerant place” (Masud 2005).’

Second, remember the Glasgow Celtic, Green Brigade protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the crowdfunding which raised thousands to pay for sporting facilities in Palestine? People in the Arab world and Islamic people in England know about this.

Third, 100 000 people marched in Glasgow in 2003 against the Iraq war. Glasgow’s Islamic population saw this. The Herald newspaper exposed many of the atrocities committed by the Coalition there.

Fourth, 1.8% of the prison population in Scotland is Muslim. This is broadly in proportion to the 1.45% of Scottish population which is Muslim, and in significant contrast to the very large figure of 13% for Muslim prisoners in England and Wales.

Fifth, notably, although Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are still over-represented in more deprived areas of Scotland, they are less likely to be living in such areas in Scotland than they are in England.

Sixth, Muslims in Scotland are fast becoming a highly-educated population – currently exceeding the total population figure for ‘degree level and above’ education by 10 percentage points.

Seventh, almost 1 in 3 (31%) of the Muslim population is ‘economically active’ full-time – whether as an employee, or self-employed. For the population as-a-whole, the figure is 51%. It is notable that both of these percentages are higher than the corresponding figures for England and Wales which are 19.8% for Muslims and 34.9% for the overall population

Eighth, comparisons with the Muslim population in England and Wales suggest that Muslims in Scotland are somewhat socio-economically better off.

Click to access scottish_muslims_in_numbers_web.pdf

Ninth‘there are no radical preachers in Scottish mosques who are urging Muslims to commit violence abroad or at home.’

Tenth, in 2017, Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, MSP for Glasgow Pollok, first took his oath of allegiance in English and then in Urdu in the Scottish Parliament. Not something you can imagine in France.

Finally, see this:

‘Good community relations mean young Muslims in Scotland eschew extremism Unlike in England, there is mutual respect between the Scottish government, the Muslim communities and the police’

One thought on “Scotland and terror: some cautious thoughts

  1. This comment arises only obliquely from your piece, which is fairly measured.

    I refer to the recent murders in London. They did not actually take place on London Bridge but within the Fishmongers’ Hall. This does not make them any less horrific and shocking, but the media reporting has used ‘London Bridge’ consistently. The first reports of the incident categorised it as ‘terrorist’. We were told that the alleged perpetrator was wearing a ‘suicide belt’, which turned out to have no explosives in it. We were told that the perpetrator, who was identified very quickly in the reports, was a ‘convicted terrorist’ who had been released on Licence. He was wearing a ‘tag’, which could identify his location. Despite the fact that the alleged perpetrator had been disarmed and had been pinned to the ground, he was summarily shot dead. The early media coverage include ‘experts’ on terrorism, who set the frame for the media narrative.

    The Prime Minister aided by the right wing media immediately used the atrocity to attack the previous Labour Government and to attack prison and justice policies, particularly the concept of rehabilitation of offenders.

    It was only two days after the killings and maimings that it became clear that they had taken entirely within Fishmongers’ Hall and, in particular at a conference there which had been dealing with the issue of rehabilitation of serious offenders, including murderers. The alleged perpetrator was an attendee.

    The families of the two murdered people spoke out immediately against the actions of the PM and his media supporters in using this tragedy to push their agenda. The two victims believed strongly in the idea of rehabilitating offenders.

    I do not know if the alleged perpetrator had ‘terrorist’ intentions. It is possible that he did. However, since he was shot we have no way of questioning him to clarify what his motives were.

    As I said, this was a shocking event and two, seemingly, fine young people’s lives have been ended.Families and friends are grieving and I sympathise. What my concern in this case, as in so many others, is that some politicians and powerful groups, assisted by their own media are presenting ‘versions’ of events that promote their paradigm of what they want the polity to be.

    I visit London fairly regularly and use trains in and out of London Bridge Station and I am often on foot in and around the area on the south side of the Bridge. I certainly do not want to be the victim of some random assault.

    There have been many stabbings in London over the past few years and almost all of them have no terrorist dimension. They arise, in my opinion, from issues of alienation and poverty and fear. While I do not condone the actions of people who have deployed ‘terror’, part of their motivation arises from such issues.

    As an individual faced with such a ‘terrorist’ I want the protection of the police. But, more hopefully, individual people seem to be ready to take action to protect others in such situations. This is the human solidarity that is so admirable and which can be channelled for the creation of a more humane and kinder society. One of the heroes of the recent event is reported to be Polish – a European, an east European, one of the people who have been used as ‘bogey men’ in the Brexit mendacity.

    So, to return to your article, I think we can take some tentative comfort from the kind of data you have presented. Perhaps we are in the early days of a better nation.

    Liked by 1 person

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