THE UK media is “obsessed” with platforming Nigel Farage and its complacency in doing so without challenging “anti-Muslim hatred” has brought Islamophobia into the mainstream, Humza Yousaf has said.

Writing in The Guardian, the former first minister described a rise of far-right and anti-Muslim rhetoric sweeping Europe – and said that it risked a reactive rise in Islamist extremism.

He suggested that a “complacency” in the media and a “tendency to ignore and dismiss anti-Muslim hatred” were partly to blame.

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The former SNP leader wrote: “Farage – who, during this campaign, has said that Muslims do not share British values – has a history of making Islamophobic remarks.

“In 2015, he said that people had fears of Muslims as a ‘fifth column’; in 2013, he suggested Muslim migrants were ‘coming here to take us over’.

“Farage has failed to get elected seven times and yet, despite this and regardless of the fact that he has made a living out of fanning the flames of religious and racial tension, the British media appears obsessed with platforming him.”

Yousaf pointed to similar surges in the hard-right in Germany, the Netherlands, and France – where president Emmanual Macron called a snap national election following a crushing defeat by the far-right in the European parliamentary vote.

The former first minister went on: “Commentators and politicians have often caricatured the likes of Farage and [Dutch far-right Party for Freedom leader Geert] Wilders as your harmless, old-fashioned uncle who, after downing one too many glasses of Pimm’s at the family barbecue, will spout the odd off-colour remark.

“This complacency, this tendency to ignore and dismiss anti-Muslim hatred, has allowed it to grow from the fringes to the mainstream of our political discourse.”

Yousaf, who became the first Muslim leader of a western nation when he was elected Scottish first minister in 2023, further cautioned that the rise of the hard-right in Europe could spark a similar extremist response among followers of Islam.

He said that people like former UK home secretary Suella Braverman are now able to “openly” claim that “the Islamists, the extremists and the antisemites are in charge now” – whereas previously they were forced to hide behind euphamisms.

Yousaf went on: “The far-right want Muslims to leave Europe – to, in their words, ‘go back home’.

“However, we have no home other than the countries we were born in, live, raise our children, work, pay our taxes to and contribute to. The result? We risk tens of millions of people across Europe feeling disfranchised, feeling as if they do not belong in their own country.

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“It is not only the far-right that would seek to gain from such feelings of disillusionment, but Islamic State-inspired extremists. They prey on vulnerable people, on those who do not feel as if they belong.

“Their twisted propaganda relies on the creation of a false dichotomy, splitting the world in two: dar al-harb (the land of war) and dar al-Islam (the world of Islam). They tell those who feel lost that they belong in the land of Islam, that the west has become a land of war in which all and any deadly tactics are acceptable to punish the enemy.

“It is not too late for politicians of all persuasions to confront and face down the anti-Muslim hatred rampant in our political discourse. The real danger is that by appeasing the far right, we also risk emboldening IS-inspired extremists too.”