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Monday, July 02, 2007

Scotland: Police investigate fire at mosque

Racist incidents including a suspected fire attack on a mosque were reported across Scotland yesterday as communities said they had been targeted after the weekend's events.

There were claims of racial abuse in Glasgow and Edinburgh, while Lothian and Borders Police said they were investigating a suspicious fire at an estate agent next door to a mosque in Bathgate.

Detectives said accelerant was used to start a fire in a toilet at the rear of the building adjoining the mosque in West Lothian, which was extinguished by a sprinkler system before anyone was injured.

Sajid Mohammad, spokesman for the Bathgate Mosque and Islamic Centre, said last night he was convinced his place of worship had been the target. He said: "It seems likely the mosque was the target. We are meeting with police to discuss security measures."

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "There is a mosque next door to the premises and there has been some speculation that it was the intended target.

"At present police are not able to say if that is the case but we are investigating the matter.

"There have been a few incidents across the force area which may be related to the recent events in Glasgow and London. However, we have not experienced any significant increase."

While a spokesman for Strathclyde Police said it had no reports of incidents, Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar said some Muslims had been threatened or targeted with abusive graffiti and a meeting of community leaders was called in response.

Grampian and Tayside police forces both said there had been no incidents reported but that officers were "monitoring the situation".

Last night religious leaders united to condemn the weekend's attacks.

Allan Forsyth, chair of the Baha'i Council for Scotland, said: "We are confident that this terrible attack on Glasgow airport will not impact on the close relations between faith communities in Scotland,"

The Most Rev Keith O'Brien, Cardinal and Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said: "Like almost all Christians, I have the most friendly relationships with members of the other great world faiths, including those of the Muslim faith. Nothing must be allowed to destroy that friendship or the mutual respect we have for each other, even in times of crisis."

The Rt Rev Sheilagh Kesting, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, added: "It is important that as leaders of the different faiths we stand together in the face of such atrocities to condemn utterly any backlash there might be on the Asian community in our country." [Link]

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