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What is Action on Sectarianism?

YouthLink Scotland, the National Agency for Youth Work has set up the first independent public website designed to challenge sectarianism in Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government.

Accessible on computers, tablets and mobile phones, this website will act as a central gateway to information and resources tackle sectarianism in Scotland by providing tailored user access to four distinct target groups:

Children and Young people

Adults: parents, carers, community groups

AoS Network: teachers, youth workers, academics, policy officers, community activists

Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre have been running roadshows across Scotland over the past 6 months addressing the issue of hate crime and discrimination within Muslim communities.

It’s been an amazing experience so far, with women attending in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, Dundee, Aberdeen, Dumfries, Perth and Ayrshire. At the events women hear from people who have personal experience of hate crime, before learning together what constitutes hate crime and hate incidents, what rights we have and what we can do if we experience it, where to get help and support. They then take part in group discussions looking at a range of issues including experiences of engaging with criminal justice and confidence in reporting, accessing local services and facilities, experience of education, using public transport and coverage of Muslims within the media. Women have been keen to get their views across and share their experiences and perspectives. While there are obviously differences in women’s experience and perspective across Scotland, some clear themes have emerged from women across Scotland.

In nearly all communities, there has been a low level of awareness of hate crime, what it is, people’s rights and what to do if you experience it. There’s a similarly low level of awareness of third party reporting centres. This is worrying after a number of years of action on this issue. The message is clearly still not getting out, at least within Muslim communities.

It’s clear from the discussions we’ve hosted that women’s primary concern is the media, and how Islam and Muslims are portrayed. Every time there is negative reporting in the media, often after a terrorist attack, Muslim women say they experience both a rise in racist and Islamophobic incidents and an increased level of fear of incidents. Women often feel vulnerable and may avoid doing things like using public transport, attending community events and using community services. There is a sense of the community essentially retreating at such moments, often feeling attacked and held accountable for the actions of others, with whom they have no connection and whose actions they abhor. Often women talk of feeling a pressure to personally dissociate themselves from such attacks, and make efforts to appear unthreatening to others. This can feel unfair. One woman spoke of feeling she must ensure she smiled at everyone she saw in the aftermath of an attack, in an effort to appear unthreatening.

Many experiences of hate crime have been shared during the events. One particularly disturbing experience recounted involved physical and verbal abuse, in front of children. The perpetrator, a woman, pushed the victim to the ground, and when others intervened, asking her to stop and telling her that the woman was pregnant, her response was ‘One less Paki baby in the World’. While this was one of the more extreme examples shared by participants, at every event, women has experiences of physical and verbal abuse to share with us.

Other themes emerge around women’s confidence in reporting to the police when they have experienced hate crime. In some areas women talk positively about the police, and quote stories they’ve heard where police have taken hate crime seriously and investigated sensitively. In other areas there is low confidence in the police, with women talking of police racism and feeling that there is no point coming forward as it won’t be taken seriously. It has become clear just how important community engagement is, as where women feel there is a sensitive community police presence, they are much more likely to report their experiences of hate crime.

Another theme which has emerged, is concern for children and young people. Many women talk about fears of Islamophobia that their children may face, at school, when taking public transport or in leisure activities. A recent example given was of a Father who, concerned about his daughter using public transport to attend university in another city, asked her to remove her headscarf, worried it would make her vulnerable to abuse.

We look forward to sharing our full report of the roadshows in the coming weeks, and we very much hope that this will add to existing knowledge of the experience and impact of hate crime in Scotland, to ensure that Muslim women’s voices are heard, and to influence other agencies in how Scotland challenges hate crime and works to ensure that all communities feel welcomed, safe, valued and equal.

To access our report, please visit http://www.mwrc.org.uk/resources/ and to find out more about the work of Amina or to get involved,  please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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