Fund security for places of worship, Government urged

The Scottish Government has been asked to create a fund for security at places of worship following the terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar made the call following the shooting in New Zealand that left 50 people dead and dozens wounded.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, he said: “No one should have to fear for their own lives, especially within a mosque, a church, a synagogue or a gurdwara.

“There is a places of worship security funding scheme available in England and Wales, no such scheme exists in Scotland.

“Will the minister urgently consider this and commit the Government and agencies to work with all our faith communities to deliver it?”

Scottish Labour leadership
Scottish Labour leadership

In response, communities secretary Aileen Campbell said that, on a visit to the Glasgow Central Mosque, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had “committed to exploring what the Scottish Government could do to provide reassurances to all faith communities and their places and worship”.

She added: “Police Scotland has stepped up reassurance patrols around mosques and increased engagement with all faith communities, giving advice on how people and places can stay safe in these troubling times.”

Paying tribute to the victims and their families, Mr Sarwar urged people to tackle the “us versus them rhetoric, the sowing the seeds of hate and the othering of our fellow citizens”.

He added: “I’m sad to say that this tragic attack didn’t surprise me and it probably didn’t surprise Muslims across the UK and across the world.”

He added: “This was a devastating and despicable act and let’s be clear – it was the act of a terrorist.

“In the aftermath of this latest tragedy, it is important that we unite and work together to confront hatred in all its forms.

“This is not someone else’s fight; don’t leave it to anyone else. This is a fight for all of us.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Liam Kerr backed Mr Sarwar’s comments that tackling hate was a job for everyone and asked the cabinet secretary what steps Scots can take “to show minority communities that they are welcome neighbours, colleagues and friends?”

Ms Campbell suggested that people could “reach out to Muslim communities in their areas” as well as calling out hate and toxic language by politicians, in the media and on social media.