Anti-Islamic abuse in Edinburgh schools ‘worrying’

The mosque in Annandale Street. Picture: GRAHAM HAMILTON
The mosque in Annandale Street. Picture: GRAHAM HAMILTON
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LEVELS of anti-Islamic abuse in the Capital’s schools have reached a worrying level, according to a new report.

More than a third of Muslim high school pupils who participated in the survey said they had experienced verbal abuse personally, while 55 per cent said they had encountered it generally.

The 18-page report, published by Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), was written by Samena Dean, a youth worker, community activist and a full-time mother who has been working with the Edinburgh Muslim community on Islamophobia for a number of years.

Samena said: “The radicalisation of the Muslim identity by Islamophobic rhetoric has led to harmful effects of Islamophobic encounters that young people face whilst carrying out normal day-to-day activities such as going to school.”

The report describes findings obtained from interviews with 100 students from primary and secondary schools across the city. The interviews were conducted at after-school Islamic Studies groups and Muslim youth groups.

Richard Haley, chair of SACC, said: “Islamophobia is a serious and growing problem in our society.

“Naturally, it doesn’t stop at the school gates. Teachers are uniquely placed to tackle this issue amongst the young. I hope that Samena Dean’s work will help to stimulate greater recognition of Islamophobia and greater empathy for those who suffer as a result of it.”

The new study – which includes a foreword by Arzu Merali, head of research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission – also found that 53 per cent of primary school respondents said they had encountered verbal Islamophobia while 29 per cent said that they had experienced it personally.

The report will be launched at a public meeting this evening at Annandale Mosque, where Ben Macpherson MSP and Councillor Gordon Munro will attend to discuss the report’s findings.

A spokesman for the city council said: “We welcome the ethnic and linguistic diversity in our schools as Edinburgh prides itself on embracing people from all over the world with open arms.

“Not only does this benefit the city but it also plays an integral role in our schools as it teaches our pupils about different cultures and the importance of diversity.

“The Capital has long been a multi-cultural city and our black and ethnic minority population reflects that.

“It is something we value and part of what makes Edinburgh a great place to live, learn and work.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk