Amjid Bashir, the National Secretary of Scottish Asians For Independence (SAFI), tells the National why the resolution on adopting the definition of Islamophobia in the Scottish Government, an extension from the SNP National Executive Committee, is so important.

'That’s an English problem' is a phrase that is often branded about when talking about Islamophobia however that’s not true. Islamophobia is an evil that exists in Scotland as much as it does elsewhere in Britain.

The actual numbers of cases may vary but as a percentage it’s about the same. 

The Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group (CPG) findings from a public enquiry about Islamophobia in Scotland found that 83.4% of Scottish Muslim respondents said they had experienced Islamophobia, 76.5% of Muslim respondents reported being verbally abused and 60.5% of Muslim respondents said they had altered their behaviours as a result of experiencing Islamophobia.

READ MORE: Aberdeenshire council sparks controversy by not agreeing definition of Islamophobia

Despite Islamophobia being the biggest hate crime being reported, few, including establishments, acknowledge its existence or prevalence. 

When reporting Islamophobic cyber bullying in the form of images of planes being flown into the twin towers sent to my 13 year old Muslim child, the school described it as a racism. They refused to recognise it as Islamophobia and couldn't distinguish between the two. 

The root causes and the cures for both these evils is different. One is based on the colour of someone's skin colour whilst the other is based on someone’s belief irrespective of them being white, brown, black or any other complexion.

That’s part of the problem. If you won’t recognise something for what it is then how can you tackle it?

A survey carried by Amina, a Scottish based Women’s Resource Centre, about the experience of Scottish Muslim Women found that 74% of respondents said that they had experienced a hate crime, 57% On the street or local neighbourhood, 21% on public transport and 90% said that no one intervened to help

The figures relating to Muslim children are just as alarming. Muslim children between the ages of 11-18 in Edinburgh revealed 55% had been victim to verbal Islamophobic abuse and 50% had been the victim of physical Islamophobic abuse.

The starting point to tacking such discrimination is by defining it. The CPG and Westminster APPG have agreed on the following definition of Islamophobia:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” 

READ MORE: Four-fifths of Muslims in Scotland have directly suffered Islamophobia, report finds

There is an urgent need for all local authorities to adopt this definition.

As a Muslim of Pakistani decent, I face two forms of discrimination, one is due to the colour of my skin however that is negligible compared to the Islamophobia I get. I have lost count of the times I have been called a terrorist or blamed for atrocities that I have nothing to do with. 

Sadly, Islamophobia is institutionally rooted in our society and establishments and comes in a variety of different guises such as being pressurised to having to change your name on your CV to make it sound less Muslim like, not being put forward for promotions at work or not being put forward as candidates for branch office bearer positions or elected political positions which have realistic chance of winning.
More positive action is needed to route out such a nasty and hidden form of discrimination. Lips service is not enough, we need to see real change to ensure that these marginalised voices are recognised and acknowledged, and this discrimination is eradicated.

Its starts with the political parties hence SAFI (Scots Asians For Independence) and the BAME Network are dedicated to tackling Islamophobia. 

SAFI will be embarking on number of Islamophobia workshops with SNP branches across the country and ask all branches to work with us on this to create a more inclusive Scotland.