Scotland politics

Paris attacks: Nicola Sturgeon warns against post-terrorism bigotry

Nicola Sturgeon signed a book of condolence Image copyright PA
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon signed a book of condolence at the French consulate in Edinburgh following the attacks in Paris

The Paris attacks have prompted Scotland's first minister to warn there is no place for "bigotry and prejudice" in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon stressed that any hate crime in the wake of the tragedy was "totally unacceptable".

She was speaking after observing the Europe-wide minute silence at the Glasgow Central Mosque.

A total of 129 people were killed in Paris when gunmen targeted restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France.

The Scottish government's international development minister, Humza Yousaf, is among those to have been subjected to abusive comments on social media in the days since the atrocities, including posts accusing him of being a terrorist sympathiser.

Numerous messages

The Glasgow MSP has reported Twitter and Facebook abuse to the police, who are investigating.

In a post on his Twitter feed, Mr Yousaf thanked people for the numerous messages of support he had received, and urged anyone else who had been the victim of a hate crime to report it to Police Scotland.

Police Scotland's Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said that his officers had dealt with a number of crimes motivated by religious hatred since the Paris attacks.

Three men, aged 25, 26, and 29 were arrested in Glasgow on Saturday for an alleged racial breach of the peace. In a separate incident, a 43-year-old man was detained in Clydebank on Sunday in connection with a similar offence.

Police Scotland said a 19-year-old man had also been arrested on Saturday in connection with the Communications Act.

There is absolutely no place for bigotry and prejudice in Scotland and this government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Ms Sturgeon was at the mosque the day before a group of refugees from Syria were due to arrive in Scotland.

She said: "These people are fleeing the terror of Isis, that's why as a community and in co-operation with other countries we have a part to play in dealing with the refugee crisis."

Ms Sturgeon said the refugees coming to the UK through the Syrian Vulnerable Peoples Relocation Scheme had "undergone stringent security checks".

'We are a country of compassion'

She added: "There is absolutely no place for bigotry and prejudice in Scotland and this government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in 21st Century Scotland.

"I urge people not to let these terrorists win by dividing us and driving a wedge between the multi-cultural society Scotland is home to.

"We are stronger when united and that is one of our strengths.

"We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance."

General secretary of Glasgow Central Mosque, Nabil Shaikh, supported the first minister's statement and added that "these crimes are not in the name of Islam".

He added: "We need to educate people that whilst they [Islamist terrorists] might go around hijacking our religion to serve their own causes, this has nothing to do with Islam and we do not consider them Muslims."

Image caption A message of support following the Paris attacks has been erected on Glasgow's "Squinty bridge"
Image caption Flowers and messages of support have also been left outside the French Consulate in Edinburgh

Flags at Scottish Government buildings and at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh were flown at half mast as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives.

Ms Sturgeon said the minute silence had been observed in Scotland and across Europe and was was "a clear indication that we all stand in solidarity with France".

She went on to praise Scotland's Muslims as a "valued and integral part of our society".

A total of 23 people have been arrested early on Monday and dozens of weapons seized in a series of raids on suspected Islamist militants across France, officials have said.

Belgian police also carried out raids in Brussels.

Mariesha Payne, from Perth, who as among other Scots caught up in terrorist attacks, has given further interviews to the BBC.

She escaped after hiding for three hours in a cellar at the Bataclan concert hall.

She said: "It was just the most cowardly thing, to walk in and shoot people in the back.

"They don't discriminate. There were people of all religions, all races, in that building, all having a good time, uniting together in music and that is the last thing you expect to happen to you."