Glasgow & West Scotland

No conviction for anti-racism campaigner

Shafiq Mohammed Image copyright Watchtower Media
Image caption Shafiq Mohammed was arrested at the demo in Monkton in Ayrshire

An anti-racism activist has been given an absolute discharge over a charge of racially aggravated behaviour.

Shafiq Mohammed, 50, told the court he had been spat at and faced Nazi salutes and yells of "Sieg Heil" at a protest by the Scottish Defence League (SDL).

He himself had been accused of racially abusing a woman and three men at the protest in Ayrshire in November 2015.

Sheriff Robert Weir said the atmosphere at the demo had been "rendered toxic by other people".

He ruled that Mr Mohammed should not receive "further punishment" and gave him an absolute discharge.

During an earlier court hearing, the sheriff heard how tempers flared as members of the far-right anti-immigration SDL staged a counter demonstration against pro-refugee demonstrators.

It followed 150 Syrian refugees being granted emergency accommodation at the Adamton Country House Hotel in Monkton, near Prestwick.

Mr Mohammed was said to have shouted that the group were "nothing but white bastards".

He denied behaving in a racially aggravated manner which was intended to cause alarm and distress.

Mr Mohammed claimed the four witnesses had conspired to make up the allegations against him.

However, Sheriff Robert Weir QC found that Mr Mohammed had behaved in the manner outlined in the charges.

The sheriff also said he did not believe the group were in collusion over the allegations.

He adjourned the case from November last year to consider his verdict.

Positive references

Delivering his verdict, Sheriff Weir noted Mr Mohammed had no previous convictions, was of low risk of re-offending and positive references had been given to the court.

He gave Mr Mohammed an absolute discharge, meaning no conviction or punishment.

The sheriff said: "I am satisfied that a formal conviction would make any future employment in your chosen field difficult, if not impossible."

Outside court, Mr Mohammed said the decision had made him "all the more more determined" to stand up to racists and support refugees and asylum seekers.

He said he had been hopeful of being cleared but that the other demonstrators should have been charged.

Mr Mohammed added: "Their behaviour was appalling with spitting, Sieg Heils and Hitler salutes. There was about 300 mainly white refugee supporters there yet it was me they went for.

"I reported it to the police but they took no action."

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