Action is needed over fascist threat to Scottish Mosques

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
14 May 2014

Members of the fascist Britain First party are reported to have "visited" Glasgow Central Mosque and a mosque in Cumbernauld at the weekend. The fascists have described their action as a "Christian crusade." According to media reports, they were wearing uniforms of matching flat caps and green jackets bearing the party logo.

They distributed Bibles and leaflets dealing with sexual grooming. It is quite obvious that this was not an attempt to promote an understanding of Christianity or to help tackle sexual exploitation. The visits were clearly intended to be understood as a threat to the Muslim community. This is not acceptable.

The Bibles distributed are said to have originally been issued by the Army. SACC supports the call by Humza Yousaf MSP for an investigation into how these Bibles fell into fascist hands.

We also believe that a serious Police investigation into these events is required. Police Scotland have said in an email to the Muslim Council of Scotland that: "Enquiries are at an early stage and have shown that these visits, although unwelcome, do not constitute criminality."

We do not believe this is an adequate response. The fascist "visits" were clearly intended to be intimidating and provocative, to create a climate of fear amongst Muslims and to incite racial and religious hatred against Muslims.

Police Scotland need to look again at these incidents and consider whether offences may have been committed. They also need to find out whether there is evidence of an ongoing conspiracy within Britain First to carry out further acts of intimidation and incitement.

Richard Haley, Chair of SACC said:

"These visits were carried out by uniformed fascists participating in what they themselves have described as a crusade. Regardless of exactly what was said, these actions were threatening in exactly the same way that a visit from known Mafia goons would be threatening. Police Scotland need to take these events seriously.

Police say enquiries are at an early stage yet they say those enquiries have already shown that the fascist visits did not constitute an offence. They need to stop prejudging their own enquiries."

SACC does not believe that the fascist threat should be dealt with by increased police surveillance of mosques. That would inhibit the ability of mosques to function as places of worship and community hubs, undermine good-faith engagement with mosques by members of the wider community, and in the end make mosques more vulnerable.

But we do think that the Police should tackle the specific threat apparently posed by Britain First.

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Notes For Editors

The email sent by Police Scotland to the Muslim Council of Scotland appears in full below:

"BRIEF TO MUSLIM COUNCIL OF SCOTLAND

I am aware that concerns may arise within our Muslim Communities as a result of persons apparently representing ‘Britain First’ and their recent attendance at Mosques in the Glasgow and Cumbernauld areas.

Enquiries are at an early stage and have shown that these visits, although unwelcome, do not constitute criminality. Our investigations are still progressing, and should evidence to the contrary come to light, I can assure all our communities that Police Scotland's absolute priority is to keep people safe and we will deal with those who break the law, robustly.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation, including the use of social media, and I would ask that we all remain vigilant, reporting any suspicious behaviour to the Police.

If you have been the victim or witness to a crime please contact Police Scotland directly on 101, online at www.scotland.police.uk, or via one of our third party reporting centres.

In an emergency please contact 999."