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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)



16 January 2015

Following last week's horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has received messages of solidarity with the Jewish community from the First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Muslim Council of Scotland, and the Church of Scotland.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, sent a message of sympathy and support :

I offer my heartfelt condolences to Jewish communities, in Scotland and France, following the horrific attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris on 9 January.

Crimes of this sort are an attack on the values that we all share and the freedoms we cherish in our Scottish society. There is no place in Scotland for any form of anti-Semitism or religious hatred that makes our communities feel insecure or threatened in their daily lives. The Scottish Government is committed to tackling all incidents of hate crime, working in cooperation with Police Scotland to ensure the security of our society.

Scotland's diversity is a strength and it is my sincere hope that all communities in Scotland will continue to be part of our work to ensure a future built on mutual trust, respect and understanding. I look forward to Scotland's Jewish community continuing to enrich our nation as we work together throughout 2015 and beyond.

This was later reiterated in a letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP.

The Muslim Council of Scotland wrote:

Last week was a particularly difficult week with the sickening attacks in Paris carried out by terrorists apparently from the Muslim community, resulting initially with the killing of 12 people including staff at the Charlie Hebdo journal.

Equally shocking have been the events of Friday which saw a brutal and senseless attack on a Kosher supermarket in Paris which ended with the killing of three hostages.

Muslim Council of Scotland has been sickened by this brazen violence and wanton loss of life. As minority faith communities living together in Europe, such brutality reminds us of the horror which hatred can bring about without any justification.

While we often say that terrorists have no religion; however, this was clearly seen during last week with the murder of police officer Ahmed Murabet on Wednesday, shot in the most despicable manner while lying injured. Likewise, we are learning of Lassana Bathily a Muslim of Mali, who assisted shoppers at the kosher supermarket escape the attackers. These examples can perhaps emphasise the true human spirit and help restore confidence  in the goodness of humanity.

As Scottish Muslims we stand in solidarity with all Jewish people especially those affected by the events of Friday, against these terrorists who we know regard us all as common enemies. We offer our deepest condolences to all and pray for an end to such violence and barbarity.

Click here to read the full letter.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland wrote:

The awful events in Paris in last week are sobering. We must remain committed to our values of tolerance, human rights and solidarity in the face of such hatred and evil. In Scotland we must remain vigilant and speak out against blame and fear and insecurity. We must be alert to the fear of Jewish people who worry about the safety of going to the shops. We must be alert to the fear of Muslims who worry about reprisals for what has happened. We should acknowledge that we are all afraid that peace has deserted us when the world continues to be such a dark place, and we must be determined to be light in those dark places. The targeting of innocents - shoppers in a kosher supermarket, police officers who work to protect citizens regardless of creed or colour, journalists who exercise hard-won freedoms of speech and opinion - should strengthen our resolve to work together; to form bridges across religious and cultural divides and say clearly: our shared humanity binds us. What we have in common is far stronger than the small things that separate us. And through our shared experience we kindle the light of hope and forgiveness.

Welcoming these messages of solidarity with the Jewish Community, and others received from members of the public, SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski warned against stigmatising any group because of the actions of a tiny number of its members, as happened to the Muslim community after the murder of Gunner Rigby. He distinguished between the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which, however evil, was motivated by what the victims were perceived to have done, and the attack on the HyperCacher supermarket, which was motivated by who the victims were. "That is the essence of hate crime," he added. "When a crime is motivated by hatred of a group, it makes all members of that group think, "there but for the grace of Gd went I", and so makes all members of that group feel threatened and vulnerable.

"The Jewish Community has naturally already been unsettled by the spike in antisemitic activity last summer, with more than 50 incidents reported in two months, compared with 12 or 13 in the whole of the previous two years, and we are very grateful to the Scottish Government, the Lord Advocate, and the Chief Constable for their strong response, making it clear that there is no place in Scotland for such attitudes and behaviour.

"We are particularly grateful to the Scottish Government Community Safety Unit for recognising the seriousness of the shock that the events of the last six months has been to the Jewish Community and indeed to civil society at large, and for enabling us to conduct a new inquiry into how attitudes have changed since our 2012 study of Being Jewish in Scotland."

During the week Ephraim was interviewed about communal reaction to the Paris murders and a report about antisemitic attitudes in the UK on Good Morning Scotland, on Radio Scotland's John Beattie show, and STV's Scotland Tonight.


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