Scottish Muslims claim increased police harrassment

Kenny Macaskill, the justice secretary, and senior police officers are to hold talks with Muslim leaders this week amid growing resentment that Asian passengers are allegedly being harassed under terrorist stop-and-search powers. Community leaders say the powers are being over-used by police at airports and railway stations, with people routinely detained for up to two hours and interrogated on their religious beliefs, prayer habits, knowledge of the Koran, political affiliations, hobbies, and their views of the Iraq war. In some cases, “suspects” are later visited at home and questioned about internet sites they have viewed, fuelling fears that they are under surveillance. The British transport police (BTP) have also been accused of heavy-handedness at main stations such as Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central. The issue will be raised at a private meeting at the central mosque in Glasgow attended by MacAskill and senior police officers. MacAskill has already attacked the BTP on the issue. Last year, Tom Harris, the UK rail minister, accused him of being “cynical and irresponsible” for claiming the BTP was harassing ethnic minorities.

Sarwar opposes Brown’s anti-terror plans

Previously loyal backbench Muslim MP Mohammed Sarwar turned against Gordon Brown’s counter-terrorism plans and prepared to deliver the first parliamentary defeat of his premiership. Sarwar warned that tension in Muslim communities was rising as a result of the plans. Opponents said they were “reasonably optimistic” they would be able to throw out plans to extend the time terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days. Their case has been strengthened by around a dozen MPs who voted in favour of similar laws in 2005, including Sarwar, who have changed their minds. Speaking about his decision for the first time, Sarwar reportedly said that he regretted supporting a 90-day limit and was concerned the legislation would unfairly target the Muslim community. The Glasgow Central MP said: “Last time I voted out of loyalty with the Government. “But since then there has not been a single case where prosecutors or the police have asked for an extension beyond 28 days. Only six people have been held for 28 days – three of whom were released without charge. The Government should think twice about doing this.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=D38ED310950F262F352E2733&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Cemetery plans opposed

Plans to create a 31-acre Muslim cemetery on land surrounding the conservation village of Carmunnock in Scotland have been opposed by locals. Villagers have launched a campaign to stop green belt land around the area being used for the new cemetery. Glasgow Central Mosque insists the new site would be kept as a green area with just one or two funerals a week. {Article continues [here.}->http://themuslimweekly.com/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=FF62AF54E1735233A0451EE6&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Islam Misunderstood, Says Minister

Islam is often “misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented”, according to Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm. At the launch of Islam Awareness Week in Glasgow Central Mosque, he reiterated the Scottish Executive’s belief in religious diversity. Mr Chisholm said anti-Islamic comments or abuse would not be tolerated. During the speech, he revealed that First Minister Jack McConnell hoped to meet imams across Scotland.