Police step up patrols at mosques after Christchurch attacks

Police have stepped up patrols at mosques in Scotland after the New Zealand shootings that left 49 dead.

There is no specific threat but officers will be working to reassure and engage with communities of all faiths, Police Scotland said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed solidarity with the Muslim community after attackers opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers.

The Muslim Council of Scotland said it was “time for us all to stand together against this hatred” and said a vigil would take place at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow at 5pm.

Ms Sturgeon said: “On behalf of the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland I extend my thoughts to the people of New Zealand and everyone affected by the horrific attacks in Christchurch.

“Muslims across Scotland and elsewhere will today visit their mosque for Friday prayers and myself and Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf will visit Glasgow Central Mosque to stand in solidarity with our Muslim communities and offer our heartfelt support.

“We must stand against Islamaphobia and all hate. Scotland’s diversity is our strength and we value and appreciate our relationships with our diverse faith communities and welcome their contribution to our society.”

Politicians across Scotland expressed their horror at the attacks and Holyrood Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, said the Parliament would be flying flags at half-mast.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf tweeted a picture of Glasgow Central Mosque and said: “Go (to) Friday prayers every week, today feels different, already talking to worshippers who feel shaken, who know this attack wasn’t in a vacuum but hatred has gone unchecked, even encouraged by those who should know better.”

Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said: “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.”

Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie wrote: “The world must unite against such vicious far right hate; tolerating its presence in our society and in our politics has become normalised, and must end.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell wrote: “My heart goes out to the families of those caught up in this outrage and the people of New Zealand.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described the attack as “sickening”.

Detective Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “We are monitoring events in New Zealand closely and send our condolences to all those affected.

“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.

“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.”

Anyone wishing to report anything suspicious is asked to call the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321, or in an emergency call 999.