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.
An organisation seeking a “new engagement” for Scottish Muslims will be launched in Edinburgh later this month. The event is scheduled to be addressed by First Minister Alex Salmond. The Scottish-Islamic Foundation (SIF) is led by second and third generation Muslims and converts to the faith, and their launch comes just a few days before the anniversary of the Glasgow Airport attack. The Foundation runs a leadership training programme, which aims to teach Muslims how their faith demands they be good citizens. They believe that Scotland can play an important role in bringing civilisations together. Osama Saeed, Chief Executive of SIF, said: “Research has shown Scottish Muslims are very comfortable with their identity, and this is an example our country can take to the rest of Europe. We don’t need to have the same debate about integration we see elsewhere, and it means we can talk about how Muslims can now further deepen their contribution to the country. “In that respect, our five aims are firmly rooted within the Islamic tradition but may surprise some – freedom, respect, education, families and justice.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=CFB31FC451C3E2938055DFA7&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Scotland’s first Muslim police association is being created, and is an attempt to encourage more Muslims to join and stay in the force. Strathclyde police hopes that the groups would also tackle the fear of Islamophobia and improve understanding of Islam. Amar Shakoor, Scotland’s first Muslim officer, said that the Muslim community had been the target of negative reactions as of late, and that he hopes the association would help put Islam in a more positive light. “We want to highlight some of the positive things Islam can provide to the communities and not just the police services,” he said. Strathclyde police has more than 7,000 officers, of which only 31 are Muslim. A significant hope of the initiative is that it will encourage young Scottish Muslims, who had previously not considered a career with the police, to seriously see the force as an option with upward mobility.
British authorities plan to put as many as 1,000 Scottish Muslims under surveillance for suspected terrorist activities, it was reported by Scotland on Sunday. The surveillance is necessary because an increasing number of extremists pose a significant threat to the public, senior intelligence officials told the paper. Richard Elias reports.