Hate crime witnesses to report transport attacks

Iain Stewart, general secretary of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. Picture: Kaye Nicolson

Iain Stewart, general secretary of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. Picture: Kaye Nicolson

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WITNESSES to hate crimes on transport across the city are being urged to speak out to help bring people to justice.

A new “transport charter” is set to be rolled out across the Capital to help improve the reporting rate of such incidents.

Due to the more visible attire of women of certain religions, they are often targeted

IAIN STEWART

The development emerged as Police Scotland enters its final week of a month-long campaign on hate crime – this week looking at victims who have been attacked due to their religion.

Over the past month, the News has spoken to different hate crime victims, with several reporting they have been targeted on public transport.

Iain Stewart, general secretary of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA), said that the majority were very reluctant to come forward.

Just last week, a Muslim woman wearing the full hijab was subjected to offensive verbal abuse while travelling on a bus in Sighthill with her baby.

Mr Stewart, who also chairs the city’s hate crime strategic development group, said: “Due to the more visible attire of women of certain religions, they are often the ones who are targeted. That’s a typical example – because there is no race Muslim, it’s a faith.”

He said it was important to note the distinction between religious and racial crime, however this can be confused as offenders often use racist language when targeting people because of their beliefs.

“World incidents like the Charlie Hebdo [attacks] then lead to a spike in events. Education is the key,” he added.

Another case in the Capital involved bacon being left outside Central Mosque.

Recently, there have also been reports of a rise in offences against the Jewish community, believed to be related to events in the Middle East. In one case, a post office in Newington was vandalised with pictures of the Star of David dripping in blood.

Sergeant Mairi Creanor, of Police Scotland’s Preventions, Interventions and Partnerships Unit based at the West End, said: “If people aren’t sure, then it’s always better to call us. We will record every hate incident, even if it’s not an offence, we will still record it.”

She added: “As with other hate crimes, incidents fuelled by religious prejudice are vastly under-reported. There have been 56 involving religion or belief since January this year.”

Sgt Creanor said that a “good proportion” of the religious hate crimes were football-related sectarianism.

n EIFA has organised an Interfaith Peace Walk on September 20. The walk, which will mark the United Nations International Day of Peace, will start at the synagogue in Salisbury Road at 1.45pm, and make its way to the Hindu Mandir in Leith.