Race crime up after terror attack

Racist crime in the west of Scotland had increased after the suspected terror attack on Glasgow Airport, BBC Scotland has learned. Strathclyde Police have released figures on racist crime and a senior officer confirmed that there had been a noticeable rise. Community and political leaders were quick to call for calm in the aftermath of the attack. The force said the rise may have been down to a greater willingness for minorities to report incidents. Between 1 and 27 July, there were 258 reported racial attacks, 31 of which were airport-related, according to Strathclyde Police.

Scottish Authorities call for Unity after Glasgow Attack

{Scottish authorities call for unity and respect for diversity following the recent trauma of an attempted attack at Glasglow International Airport on June 30, 2007. Talks were held following the attack between government officials and representatives of the Muslim community as part of Scotland Executive Mr. Salmond’s “One Scotland” campaign.} Original Title: “Call for unity after Muslim talks” Scotland’s communities must hold together against the threats of terrorism, racism and sectarianism, the first minister has urged. The call came as Alex Salmond met with Muslim leaders at a Bute House reception as part of the Scottish Executive’s One Scotland campaign. Mr Salmond said Scotland must not allow divisions to be created from within. Last month’s Glasgow Airport attack have led to fears of possible reprisals against the Muslim community. Mr Salmond was joined by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing and Solicitor General Frank Mulholland for the meeting, which included a question and answer session and an open discussion.

Clearer Picture Emerges of Suspect in Bomb Plot

By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS BANGALORE, India, July 14 – A third man was charged with a terrorism offense on Saturday in the failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, but on a minor charge that underscores the primacy of the focus on the two main suspects. One of them, Dr. Bilal Abdulla, was arrested after he emerged from the flaming wreckage of a Jeep Cherokee that slammed into the Glasgow airport terminal two weeks ago. He was charged with conspiring to cause explosions. The other main suspect, Kafeel Ahmed, 28, has not been charged: He is in critical condition from burns suffered in the attack and doctors are doubtful that he will survive. But interviews with Indian investigators and relatives are beginning to offer a clearer picture of a disciplined, professional and rigorously religious young man who was, perhaps surprisingly, helping to design airplane parts for the huge American manufacturer Pratt & Whitney even as he grew more intent on defending Islam around the world.

Travel bans considered to stop Britons from training for terrorism overseas

Criminals in Britain could be barred from traveling to countries suspected of harboring terrorist camps after it emerged that the leader of a 2005 bombing plot against London’s transit system had been allowed to go to Pakistan despite facing minor charges in Britain. Failed bomber Muktar Said Ibrahim was an Eritrean refugee offered a British passport in 2004, a fact that has fueled fresh debate in Britain over border controls and immigration. Ibrahim, 29, was among four men sentenced Wednesday to life in prison in the attempted bombings, which came two weeks after July 7, 2005, suicide attacks that killed 52 commuters on three London subway cars and a bus. Though Ibrahim had prior convictions for assault and at the time of a 2004 trip to Pakistan was charged in a disturbance while he was distributing extremist leaflets, authorities granted him British citizenship and allowed him to travel freely. The conclusion of the trial in the failed bombing came weeks after more failed attacks involving immigrants the attempted car bombings June 29-30 in London’s entertainment district and at Glasgow’s airport.

Failed bomb attacks ‘hurt Islam’

The failed bomb attacks on London and Glasgow have damaged public perceptions of Islam, a survey has suggested. An opinion poll shows that 71% of people questioned thought the abortive attacks gave Islam a bad name. The research was carried out for the religious research organisation Theos and saw 1,000 people questioned. Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah, 27, has been charged in connection with the car bomb attempts in London and the attack on Glasgow airport.

Are UK’s imams modern enough?

A week after the failed attacks in London and Glasgow, the Muslim Council of Britain has called an emergency meeting of imams and Muslim community activists to work out a strategy for combating extremism. Their particular concern will be young Muslims, and the radical groups trying to recruit them to their hard-line understanding of Islam, with all its disdain for the Western way of life. Those meeting in London on Saturday – and in a separate gathering in Oxford – are likely to see imams as a vital part of the task. They are the official interpreters of Islam, and the public officials of the Muslim world whose word should carry maximum authority. But a BBC study has led some influential figures in British Islam to doubt their imams are equal to this most urgent of tasks.

Iraq-style car bombs reach Britain: Two failed attacks in London’s West End and a fireball in Glasgow

Britain’s national threat level was raised to “critical” after three attempted car bombings last week in London and Glasgow. Police and intelligence officers confirmed that there was a direct link between the attack on Glasgow airport last Saturday and two attempted car bombings in London last Friday. This confirmed the reality of a renewed UK offensive by Islamist extremists. Prime Minister Gordon Brown summoned intelligence chiefs and ministers to the Cobra emergency committee in Whitehall to discuss the security situation. It was agreed to raise the threat level to the highest degree possible, a decision that confirmed another attack was expected soon. The first two “Iraqi-style” car bombs had been found in London by chance in the early hours of Friday morning.

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.

Muslim Leader Assaulted at Mosque

A 53-year-old imam has been punched and kicked by a man who entered a mosque in the west end of Glasgow. Strathclyde Police confirmed that the incident, at the Dawat ul Islam centre, happened at about 1800 BST on Friday. Mohammed Shamsuddin was taken to the nearby Western Infirmary, but later discharged following treatment.

We’re Not Seen As Scots As We Don’t Drink’; Revealed: Fragile National Identity Of Young Muslims

By Mona McAlinden YOUNG Muslim men born in Scotland do not feel completely Scottish because they believe the prevailing drinking culture excludes them. A three-year study by a Glasgow University researcher also found that young Asians faced racist abuse on a daily basis. The research – based on interviews and focus groups involving mostly teenage males from the Muslim community in Glasgow and Edinburgh – reveals a “fragile Scottish national identity”, despite the vast majority of those involved being born and educated in this country. The belief among male Muslims aged 16-25 that drinking alcohol and going to nightclubs is a major part of Scottish culture acts as a barrier to feeling completely Scottish, according to the study. Some of the interviewees spoke of how the drinking culture, described by one as a “Scottish trademark”, further excludes young Muslim men by increasing the likelihood of racist abuse or attacks. Dr Peter Hopkins, a research fellow in the university’s Centre for the Child and Society, said: “The participants see drinking as an integral part of life in Scotland, not just among young people but among Scots generally. Some mentioned that the drinking culture actually encouraged racism as they felt that people were more likely to be racist if they had a drink in them. “Many of their comments appear to suggest that the young men think that they would feel more Scottish, and be less likely to experience racism, if they actively participated in drinking and clubbing. They felt that would make them part of the mainstream culture and that white Scots wouldn’t see them as different. But they were drawing on a stereotype that drinking is important to all Scots.” The study reveals that a small minority of Muslim men are actively embracing aspects of what they regard as Scottish culture by visiting nightclubs and drinking alcohol, against the wishes of their family and some of their peers. The report highlights a no-win situation for those living in Scotland’s largest cities as they feel “excluded” from Scottish society by trying to adhere to their religious principles but are also isolated from the Muslim community if they stretch the boundaries of their religious beliefs. One interviewee from Edinburgh said: “I don’t indulge in the pub culture and things like that, so I can’t say I’m completely Scottish. Alcohol plays a big part in people’s lives. Something like the Hogmanay set-up, yeah, it’s New Year but I don’t consider it my New Year.” Another major barrier to young Muslim males feeling a sense of Scottish national identity, according to the report, is the level of racist abuse they face on a daily basis. Although many said they felt part of Scotland because they were educated here, have a Scottish accent and follow football, the interviewees said the insidious nature of the racism distances them from Scottish society. Many reported that racist name-calling was perpetrated mostly by young white people but is not only confined to that generation. Hopkins explained: “Many suggest that markers of their religious identity, such as keeping a beard, lead to a lack of job opportunities as employers choose to appoint people who are not visibly Muslim.” ?One Glaswegian Asian said: “My sister used to always wear the headscarf and she got knocked back when she went for quite a few interviews … she actually got a job the second time after not wearing it.” While Hopkins admits it may be easy for the young men to argue that they are unemployed because of their religion, as opposed to possible unsuitability for the job, he says the frequency of such comments suggests that some employers are racist and Islamophobic. He continued: “They face racism on a daily basis everywhere – in school and on the streets, especially after the September 11 attacks. In response to that, some were apprehensive about going to mosques, scared of going out on their own and withdrew from their social networks. There was some talk about no-go areas, normally in the most deprived parts of the city.” Osama Saeed, for the Muslim Association of Britain, agreed that some face a no-win situation. He said: “Some young Muslims have been distanced from feeling Scottish and part of Scottish culture because they feel alienated by racist abuse. “Life in Scotland is sometimes a very difficult balancing act for young Muslim men because so much revolves around drinking here, whether it’s after work or socialising at the weekends. “So there is pressure to conform with the habits of mainstream society but young Muslims also risk upsetting their family if they try to do so.” Scottish actor Atta Yakub, who starred in Ken Loach’s mixed-race romance Ae Fond Kiss in 2003, has also experienced racism but refuses to allow that to affect his sense of Scottishness. “It’s disappointing to hear that because it shouldn’t make them feel or act any differently, regardless of what other people might say.” Despite a high-profile career which inevitably involves endless events and ceremonies, Yakub says he feels no pressure to drink alcohol to socialise. “Unfortunately there is quite a lot of focus on drinking in Scotland. But if I go to a bar it doesn’t mean I have to drink. You can still get involved in the culture and make a go of it without compromising your principles, rather than sitting back saying I can’t do that. I would rather invite Scottish people into our community and culture and go out for dinner on Saturday night instead. “It’s hard trying to get the best of both worlds, there’s only certain parents who are liberal enough to have that understanding. But it comes back to a generational thing — there’s an element of having to balance things that some parents don’t allow just now.”