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Monday, July 09, 2007

Scottish Muslims Fear Revenge Attacks

In the entire row of stores, the only one that was targeted - the one that still smells of smoke - is owned by a man of Pakistani descent.

Shafiq Ahmed said vandals rammed a car into his 'One Stop Shop' convenience store, then set a fire - an assault disturbingly reminiscent of the attempted terror attack just days earlier on the airport of this gritty Scottish city.

Police are investigating the alleged attack and others as part of an apparent backlash against Glasgow's Muslims since the failed airport assault and attempted car bombings in London. At least 24 incidents are being probed, from graffiti on a mosque to firebombed businesses.

As he cleaned the soot from his charred store, Ahmed, who moved to Britain as an infant, hoped the attack on his family business wasn't racially motivated. After 30 peaceful years in Scotland, the idea that some may no longer welcome him and his Scottish-born children is highly uncomfortable.

'I haven't got words to describe it. I'm hoping it's not retaliation,' Ahmed, 41, said Sunday, in a thick Glasgow accent. 'It's a shame to think you can't work with people and enjoy the company of people and instead have to worry.'

Unlike in Muslim enclaves in northern England, Asian Muslims in Glasgow do not live in complete isolation. White customers are common in curry restaurants and ethnic grocery stores. Glaswegians wearing the colors of the local soccer team, the Glasgow Rangers, share the sidewalks with Muslim community elders clad in the long tunics and matching baggy trousers traditionally worn in Pakistan. [Link]

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