Scottish politicians react to New Zealand attack

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Glasgow vigil
Image caption,
People gathered in Glasgow's Buchanan Street in solidarity with the victims

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand and offered solidarity with the Muslim community.

The first minister was among a number of Scottish politicians reacting to the shootings and offering condolences.

Police have stepped up patrols at mosques in Scotland but insisted there was no specific threat.

Ms Sturgeon visited a mosque in Glasgow on Friday afternoon, and a vigil took place in the city centre later.

The shootings, which came around the time people were attending Friday prayers, were the deadliest in the New Zealand's history.

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In a tweet, the first minister said that Muslims are a "valued part of our diverse and multicultural society".

Ms Sturgeon wrote: "This is beyond awful. Innocent people being murdered as they worship is horrific and heartbreaking.

"My thoughts and solidarity are with New Zealand's Muslim community and all of its people on this dark day.

Image caption,
Nicola Sturgeon met members of the Muslim community at a Glasgow mosque

"Today, at mosques across Scotland and elsewhere, Muslims will attend Friday prayers.

"They are a valued part of our diverse and multicultural society. It is terrorists who commit acts such as who offend our values as a society. We must stand against Islamaphobia and all hate".

Ms Sturgeon said she would visit the Glasgow Central Mosque on Friday with MSP Humza Yousaf, adding: "New Zealand may be on the other side of the world but I know that for Muslims here, what has happened will feel very personal and close to home.

"As we send our love to #christchurch, we must stand united here".

Image caption,
Anas Sarwar said it was "a devastating and despicable attack"

Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: "This was a devastating and despicable attack. Today, as millions of Muslims attend Friday Prayers across the world, thoughts are with all the victims, their families and friends, and all those hurting.

"Prejudice is on the rise across the world, creating a toxic 'us versus them' environment that sows the seeds of hate.

"This terrorist attack is designed to divide our communities, but an attack on one is an attack on all.

"In the aftermath of this distressing tragedy, we must unite and work together to confront hatred. This is not a fight for one individual community, it's a fight for all of us."

Holyrood's Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, indicated that the parliament would be flying flags at half-mast following the attacks as a mark of respect.

David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, wrote: "My heart goes out to the families of those caught up in this outrage and the people of New Zealand."

Solidarity vigil

The Muslim Council of Scotland has arranged a vigil in Glasgow on Friday evening in solidarity with the New Zealand victims. The group said everyone was welcome.

Those who would like to attend should gather at the steps at the top of Buchanan Street at 17:00.

The Muslim Council said: "It is now time for us all to stand together against this hatred and share our support to the victims and injured."

Police Scotland said patrols would be increased around mosques, but added there was no intelligence to suggest there was a specific threat.

Det Ch Con Will Kerr said: "We stand together with all our communities and partners here and overseas, and will continue to work with them to counter the threat no matter where it comes from.

"There is no intelligence to suggest there is any specific threat to Scotland.

"Today we will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faiths, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves"

Image source, Shetland Islands Council
Image caption,
The Shetland flag is flying at half mast above Lerwick's town hall.

The Scottish government has said flags at its buildings will fly at half mast.

The Shetland flag is flying at half mast above Lerwick's town hall.

Malcolm Bell, convener of Shetland Islands Council, said: "Shetland has deep connections with New Zealand.

"Our thoughts are with those affected by the appalling events in Christchurch today, including the Muslim community in New Zealand and beyond.

"These mindless, evil attacks in places of worship is a reminder of the need for vigilance against hatred wherever it occurs."