Could we face up the FACTS that tell us Scotland is less ‘nasty?’

In the Herald today:

‘HERE’S what anti-Muslim racism feels like in lovely, tolerant Scotland: “I feel scared for both me and my family. When my children were small we were so scared as we were constantly being abused due to being Muslim. I got depression, I even contemplated suicide due to a racist neighbour making our life hell.

Once more exploiting a single case to fake a wider crisis that is not there in any reliable evidence. Indeed, McQuillan’s sarcasm cannot hide the fact that things are different in Scotland. Here are a few:

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.

Eleventh, 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’


Racial hate crimes increase by 33% in England & Wales while falling by 10% in Scotland: Who says we’re not different?

Scottish Muslim students far less likely to report abuse or crime?

Terror de-radicalisation referral rate in Scotland less than one third per capita of that in England

6 thoughts on “Could we face up the FACTS that tell us Scotland is less ‘nasty?’

  1. Thanks for that John , puts things into perspective
    Anas Anwar once again brought up the question of Muslim abuse at FMQ yesterday so I thought things were getting bad .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Let me state at the outset that harassment of any individual or group because of race, gender, belief, disability, etc is unequivocally WRONG! I was angered to read of the unpleasant experiences of some Muslims on our streets, but, sadly, I was not surprised.

    I was not surprised, because societies have a proportion of nasty people and we are not exempt and never have been. However, the large majority of us are not. I was also not surprised because of the continuous drip drip of ant Islamic reports in the media and the paradigm used in these reports. I was not surprised because of the anti-immigrant legislation being planned by the Westminster Government.

    What Ms McQuillan is doing is the old hack’s tired ploy of creating a ‘straw man’ and building a story which is expressed in luridly outraged terms implying we are all guilty. It is a version of the unionist ‘exceptionalism’ jibe (also a straw man) which they hurl at us ‘nationalists’ (loaded term, hinting we are fascist, racist bigots). It is also the trope of generalising from particulars – there is an islamophobe two closes down from where you stay, so everybody in your district must be an Islamophobe.

    An example is the way that sectarianism is “Scotland’s secret shame”. There is bugger all ‘secret’ about it. Anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows that there are some pretty nasty sectarian bigots. However, in my personal experience (anecdotal) and more objectively, in Professor Tom Devine’s statistical analysis, sectarianism has declined markedly in Scotland over the past 60+ years.

    What was a secret shame for a long time, largely due to its exclusion from school syllabuses, was Scotland’s role in slavery and the benefits which accrued to the City of Glasgow. Over the past 10/15 years far more has been published and the extent is now much more widely known. However, none of us alive in Scotland today bear any personal blame for that. Nevertheless it is important that we recognise and accept that it is a part of our history and is within our culture. I, for example, frequently used Stirling’s Library, when it was a public library, and the Mitchell Library and continue to enjoy what these buildings currently provide. I think it is important that we acknowledge this publicly and express regret that many people of colour suffered grievously as a result. As an alumnus of Glasgow University, I think that what the University has done, with regard to educational scholarships for people in the West Indies is a far more positive and honourable action of atonement than any ‘apology’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well said, Alasdair. I agree entirely.

      The Herald article in question is framed in a very negative way. And I agree with John that there are indeed examples of ‘sarcasm’ which seem unnecessary in this context …. unless revealing of something else.

      However, it is notable how the same journalist (as far as I can tell) writes about the same general issue, around the same point in time (17 February) but frames her writing in a completely different manner for a different publication.

      See this from Holyrood Magazine:,new-scots-meet-the-syrian-refugees-who-are-setting-up-businesses-in-a-small_15125.htm

      As our professor of media matters could analyse better than I can, comparing and contrasting these two articles – on the same subject, by the same journalist – is to see in the starkest terms how the media may seek to influence readers by opting to use different framing.

      What is also interesting here is to note which frame was used for which publication, and therefore what sort of readership is the target of the respecting frames. We probably have a good sense of The Herald’s readership. This is what Holyrood Magazine says about itself:

      “The award winning magazine of the year is read by the country’s key legislators, Scottish parliamentarians, civil servants, Scottish Government agencies, political parties, 32 local authority chief executives, as well as individual departments within councils, trade unions, health boards, educational organisations, voluntary organisations and non-governmental bodies.”

      So the positive frame is chosen when writing for the well-informed politically engaged readers. The negative frame is chosen for The Herald’s wider readership – the wider electorate. I wonder why!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I used the word ‘hack’ in my first post, I was using it in a derogatory way, but, there is a more neutral meaning of someone who can write, on demand, for a particular audience. I think you have shown that Ms McQuillan is capable of ‘hack’ writing in the second sense.

    Is the Herald’s readership the ‘wider’ electorate? It has a dwindling membership and I think many just want their prejudices reassured!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Encouraging to see that the massive electoral victory by SNP/YES in the December Westminster election (82% of constituencies won) continues to give confidence to Scottish Business that the economy damaging antics of Johnson’s tories (threatening to “F— business”) can be challenged and contested by an engaged electorate. Link and snippets below (even beeb Scotland can’t, completely, ignore this SNP gooooooooood!!!!! story):

    Business confidence in Scotland bounced back last month, according to a survey.

    Bank of Scotland’s latest business barometer rose by 19 points to a net balance of 15%, with firms reporting more confidence in their prospects as well as higher economic optimism.

    This was reflected in businesses’ hiring intentions, with a net 5% of firms expecting to hire more staff during the next year.

    Across the UK, overall confidence was unchanged on 23%.

    The survey was conducted with 1,200 companies, including 84 businesses in Scotland.

    Fraser Sime, regional director at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “This increase in confidence shows great resilience from Scottish businesses.

    “However, companies are likely to act with an element of caution throughout 2020 as some political and economic uncertainty remains.”

    Liked by 1 person

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