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Plea for victims of Islamophobia to report incidents to create clearer picture of religious intolerance

People embrace after prayers and celebrations at Dundee Islamic Society mosque to celebrate Eid.
People embrace after prayers and celebrations at Dundee Islamic Society mosque to celebrate Eid.

Muslim people are turning the other cheek to verbal assaults rather than report them to police, it has been claimed in the wake of new figures that suggest religious bigotry has reduced in Dundee.

Information released by the Scottish Government details how many times someone was charged in relation to religiously aggravated attacks against a Muslim person in the country.

According to the data, there had been less than five incidents in 2016/17 and 2017/18 respectively charges in Dundee.

In 2015/16, there were 16 such incidents, however. The national picture also shows a spike and was in line with a rise in similar types of charges that also saw a rise that year.

The data includes any form of offensive conduct towards someone based on the belief that the victim was Muslim, whether or not this was actually the case.

Naseh Ahmad, of the Dundee’s Ahmadiyya Mosque, said that despite the reduction of incidents in the city, most verbal incidents go unreported.

He said: “Abuse still happens towards us, but I think most people end up ignoring it rather than reporting it to police. A couple of times people have shouted religious hatred at me, but I just got on with it.

“I know a lot of people who have to deal with the public for their job, such as taxi drivers, get quite a lot of verbal abuse.

“I’ve never actually heard of a physical attack happening, though.”

Ahmadiyya Mosque was attacked by vandals earlier in the year, with fears that it was hate crime being raised shortly after. The community responded with kindness however, cooking up a feast for anyone in the area to attend and learn about the mosque.

Naseh, who has lived in the city for 10 years, feels that Dundee is better than a lot of other places for Islamophobia.

“I have family in England and it seems to be worse for them there,” he said.

“With all this far right stuff, there is a sense of hate towards Muslims. People like Tommy Robinson have made it worse, I think.”

Naseh suggested that more people should use services such as Tell Mama, a national project which records anti-Muslim activity in the UK , so there is a clearer picture of the scale of religious hatred in the country.

He added: “I think a lot of times these things go unreported because it’s time consuming to do so, and people don’t want to have to sit through court. But if the incidents recorded, the more of an idea we have of whether it’s getting worse or not.”

According to Tell Mama, the number of discriminatory attacks against Muslims have more than doubled in the UK since 2015.

The Scottish Government data shows that Glasgow and Edinburgh, unsurprisingly given the higher populations, saw the highest number of attacks on Muslims.

In Courier Country, in Angus there were no charges of aggravated attacks since 2014, except in 2016/17 when there was less than five.

The figures were similar in Perth & Kinross, but there was also less than five incident during 2017/18.

The rate was higher in Fife, with there being charges made in every year since 2014.

In 2016/15 there were 16 incidents and in 2017/18 there were 11. There were less than five attacks in both 2014/15 and 2016/17.

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