The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has issued the following statement following the recent increase in attacks on Muslims in Scotland and throughout the UK:
The Jewish Community of Scotland is deeply concerned by the increasing number of hate crimes against Muslims since the appalling murder of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich. According to a recent UK parliamentary answer, there have been over 240 reported anti-Muslim incidents, mainly verbal abuse, much of it on the internet, but also attacks on individuals, arson, and even two improvised explosive devices outside mosques.
As ACPOS has pointed out, hate crime does not only affect its immediate victim, but all those who share the group identity that made the victim a target. We therefore stand with the Muslim community in condemning unreservedly the irrational hatred that holds entire communities responsible for the crimes of a tiny number of extremists. We deplore the message of hate of those who seek to stir up racial and religious tension, and express our solidarity with all those who are the target of their warped views. We once again reaffirm our belief in a diverse Scotland of many cultures, faiths, and traditions, and wish the Muslim community a Ramadan Mubarak, a month of blessings, security, and peace.
The release of Scotland's hate crime figures for 2012-13 coincided with an exchange in the Westminster parliament about the recent increase in attacks on Muslims since the murder of Drummer Rigby in Woolwich. Replying to Keith Vaz, the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, who referred to a recent report that there were 241 anti-Muslim attacks between 22 May and 25 June this year, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, responded that "The most important thing that we did was establish a way of recording anti-Muslim attacks. We took on board what had been happening with anti-Semitic attacks and took some of it across."
In Scotland, the First Minister met representatives of the Muslim community, interfaith organisations, ethnic minority organisations, and other minorities, to reassure them that the Scottish Government values the contribution all communities "make to Scottish culture, society, and economy, and to reassure them that we will not allow the events of Woolwich to divide communities". He also reiterated the Scottish Government's "commitment to promoting inclusion and solidarity among Scotland's communities".
The Jewish community's own experience of antisemitism, in its older and modern forms, enables us better to understand and relate to the manifestations of hatred against Muslims in Britain today. Sadly, antisemitism has set the standard for irrational hatred, and, as Eric Pickles said, it is that experience that is helping to inform government response to attacks on Islam. Hate crime demonises entire communities and heightens individuals' fear and insecurity; by increasing people's sense of vulnerability, it divides communities when we should be forging better relationships.
SCoJeC is proud to have been one of the founders of the Scottish Inter-Faith Council (now Interfaith Scotland), and to play a leading role in Bemis, the umbrella organisation for ethnic and cultural minorities in Scotland, to have led the organisation of an interfaith pilgrimage, and to work closely with the Scottish Refugee Council and other organisations working for the benefit of minority communities. In that spirit, we have issued statements in the past condemning the attempts of the self-styled Scottish Defence League to divide communities on our streets, and welcomed the efforts of the Scottish Government and the Law Officers to combat sectarianism (see here, here, and here). We deeply regret that individuals and communities continue to be targeted in this way, and, in light of recent events, we feel that we have, once again, to make clear our abhorrence of all hate crime.