The Evening Times has reported that police are investigating potential hate crimes following the reading of the Koran at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow. 

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, the provost of the cathedral, received numerous threatening and abusive homophobix and Islamaphobic messages after the religious text was read out.

He believe that the recent referendums have played a part in and increase in online abuse generally, including that which he has received.

The service was intended to promote inter-faith relations and tolerance and was attended by a number of Muslims, however it attracted criticism online including death threats aimed at Mr Holdsworth.

The provost said that police had been very supportive and he had been kept up-to-date about their investigation.

He also defended the decision to read the Koran out at the cathedral, claiming it had led to a recent increase in the congregation at the church. 

“I realise I did something that touched a nerve,” he said. “But I had to have a cool head and say: what we did matched our values, what we were trying to do was be hospitable to our Muslim neighbours, get to know them and learn something about them, and that worked, that happened.

“Friendships have been formed which wouldn’t have been formed otherwise.

“The other thing that happened, which has really taken us by surprise, is that the congregation experienced a sudden rise in numbers. We are now running at 20 per cent higher year on year on Sunday morning. Now that tells me that what we are doing at St Mary’s is something that people want to believe in.”

It has been read out at St Mary's previously without incident and Mr Holdsworth speculated that the anger he had since witnessed could be part of a trend following the referendums on Scottish Indpendence and EU membership.

“Something has changed,” he said. “The two referendums we’ve been through and the election of Trump has changed the way people think they can behave in public.

“People now seem to think that they can speak in public, on Twitter and social media, in a way that makes me deeply uncomfortable. It’s also the rise of people having 4G phones in their pocket – they can respond very quickly to things.”

However, Mr Holdsworth also said he hoped other churches would follow St Mary’s example. “That sense of getting to know people of a different faith matters and if more churches were doing that, getting to know their Muslim neighbours, serve society and generate community cohesion, then churches would probably be full up. And perhaps mosques as well – they have the same troubles as many churches of passing on the faith to younger people.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We can confirm that we are investigating a report of offensive comments having been sent to St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. Inquiries are ongoing.”

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