Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

Working together to tackle
Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Scotland

 

27 November 2018

Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Scotland

SCoJeC was delighted to participate in a meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia in the Scottish Parliament to discuss Shared Experiences, Shared Challenges, and Shared Ideas alongside the Muslim Council of Scotland (MCS).

The meeting was chaired by Anas Sarwar MSP, and the main speakers were Danielle Bett, the Jewish Community's Public Affairs Manager, and Fariha Thomas of the MCS, who spoke about their personal experiences of religious prejudice and harassment in Scotland.

Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Scotland

During a wide-ranging discussion, both Jewish and Muslim participants spoke movingly about their personal experiences of abuse and discrimination, and several of the Muslim participants expressed their admiration of the achievements of the Jewish Community, especially in the field of welfare, as a model they could emulate. SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski spoke about the current Scottish Government consultations about hate crime legislation and sectarianism, the new "working definition" of Islamophobia, modeled on the internationally accepted definition of Antisemitism, published by the Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, and the role of legislation in changing public attitudes to hate speech.

Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Scotland

Other topics discussed included bullying in schools, issues that affect both communities such as post mortems and family law, joint Jewish-Muslim activities during the recent Mitzvah Day, the reporting of hate incidents and how they are handled by police, and plans for a Scottish branch of the Muslim-Jewish women's group Nisa-Nashim.

The meeting concluded with the signing of a joint declaration by the representatives of SCoJeC and the MCS:

Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Scotland
We stand together determined to end the hatred and extremism that affects us all.
It was hatred and extremism that led to the murder of 11 members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh in the United States and the terror attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque in London.
There have been Islamophobic and Antisemitic attacks on mosques and synagogues here at home, and we should never be blind to the fact that racism, intolerance and prejudice exists in Scotland.
We cannot hope to eradicate Islamophobia and Antisemitism unless we acknowledge that it exists in our workplaces, universities and playgrounds across the country.
This is not about geopolitics, but about the lived experiences of Muslims and Jews in Scotland today. It is important that stakeholders listen to the individual communities about their experiences and what they mean.
We resolve to use our shared experiences, shared challenges, and shared ideas to work together:

To address barriers to the reporting of Islamophobia and Antisemitism to the police.

To help shape Scotland's forthcoming legislation on hate crime.

To challenge the spread of hate on social media websites.

To address concerns about prejudiced reporting of Muslims and Jews by working with print and broadcast media.

To create a Muslim/Jewish Women's Network to recognise and combat the gendered nature of prejudice and hate crime, and to build friendships and cross communal relations.

To build appropriate social services including culturally sensitive and faith specific social care services for an ageing population, the accurate reporting of the types of bullying in our schools and how these cases are dealt with, and the greater use of scanning in place of invasive post-mortems wherever possible.

By bringing people of different faiths together, we have a unique opportunity to build communities that are closer, more inclusive and more resilient to the threat of division.
We can't leave the fight against all forms of prejudice and hate to individual communities – it's a fight for all of us.
The Muslim Council of Scotland
The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities


Anas Sarwar, chair of the Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia
, said:

"This is a landmark communique, bringing together communities to work together to address Islamophobia and Antisemitism.

"Silence is no longer an option for those who believe in equality and unity, and we can't just pick and choose which type of equality we speak up for. We can't leave the fight against Antisemitism to the Jewish community, and we can't leave the fight against Islamophobia to the Muslim community. This is a collective fight for all of us.

"I'm pleased the CPG on Tackling Islamophobia has been able to bring groups together to discuss shared experiences, shared challenges, and shared ideas."

Dr Muhammad Adrees, Convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland, said:

"This joint communique sends out a powerful message about working together to tackle the evils of Islamophobia and Antisemitism.

"But it is also about working together on shared ideas, and building friendships and connections through that process.

"We are delighted that the CPG on Tackling Islamophobia has facilitated this meeting, and believe that by working together we can make a lasting difference for Jewish and Muslim people living in Scotland. The Muslim Council of Scotland welcomes all other communities to work together to enhance community cohesion in Scotland."

SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski added:

"History has taught us that racism and religious hatred might start by targeting a single community, but it never ends there, so it is in the interests of us all to stand shoulder to shoulder to demonstrate that 'othering', discrimination, and hatred are never acceptable.

"It beggars belief that while the Holocaust remains within living memory, the attitudes that led to it are on the rise again. SCoJeC therefore welcomes the opportunity to join the MCS and the CPG on Tackling Islamophobia to discuss the similarities between the experiences of our two communities, and to explore how to work together to challenge them."

Click here to listen to a BBC Scotland "Drivetime" interview with Ephraim Borowski and Fariha Thomas.

 

   
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