SCoJeC has been contributing to the planning of the Scottish Government’s new “Speak Up Against Hate Crime” campaign, which is urging people who suffer or witness crime based on prejudice to report all incidents to the police.
The Scottish Government is working with key organisations, agencies and communities across Scotland, including SCoJeC, as well as Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and disability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith communities – to raise awareness among those affected by hate crime. The Government has reiterated that hate crime is unacceptable and that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, regardless of their personal characteristics. The campaign aims to ensure members of the public are confident in the reporting process and have an understanding that reporting a hate crime of any kind, whether habitual taunting or physical violence, online bullying or vandalism, makes a big difference.
SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski commented, “We have always welcomed the seriousness with which the Scottish authorities have tackled hate crime, including antisemitism, and have spoken out in solidarity with other vulnerable communities, as when there was a surge in attacks on Muslims after the murder of Gunner Rigby. Hate crime is particularly harmful because an attack motivated by the victim’s personal characteristics or membership of a group is also an attack on everyone else who shares that characteristic – the very antithesis of community safety.”
Sadly, as our recent enquiry into the experience of Being Jewish in Scotland has shown, many Jewish people in Scotland report feeling vulnerable and alienated when they hear about attacks on other Jewish people. One of the most serious was when Jewish student, Chanan Reitblat, was attacked by a fellow student at the University of St Andrews, but we were reassured when his attacker was found guilty of racial abuse and ordered to complete 150 hours community service. Chanan later commented. “After the conviction I was satisfied that justice was served and that such bigotry wasn’t tolerated in Scotland. Despite what happened to me, I look back on my time in Scotland with fond memories. The crime committed against me was taken seriously by the authorities and I applaud the efforts of the University of St Andrews, the Police in Scotland and the courts.”
Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “Hate crime can have a devastating impact on individuals and communities and there’s no place for these incidents in our country. It’s extremely important for victims or witnesses of hate crime to speak up and have their voices heard. We take a zero tolerance approach to incidents of hate and, reporting hate crime assists not only with that particular incident but also helps prevent it happening to others.”