Jewish and Muslim community leaders in Scotland have agreed a set of concrete steps that will greatly expand cooperation between the two faith communities, including the set-up of “a faith-specific social care service”.
The Muslim Council of Scotland (MCC) and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) said they were “standing together” against antisemitism and Islamophobia, as they also paved the way for a Muslim-Jewish Women’s Network
The first-of-its-kind intervention comes as the Scottish government reviews hate crime legislation north of the border, with Jewish leaders warning the issue is not confined to just one race or religion.
“History has taught us that racism and religious hatred might start by targeting a single community, but it never ends there,” said SCoJeC director Ephraim Borowski.
“That is why it is in the interests of us all to stand shoulder to shoulder to demonstrate that ‘othering,’ discrimination, and hatred are never acceptable.”
Figures published in May show there were more than 5,700 hate crimes registered in Scotland last year, and leaders of the two communities warned that it was hate that led to attacks on a Pittsburgh synagogue and on Finsbury Park Mosque.
Glasgow politician Anas Sarwar said: “We can’t leave the fight against antisemitism to the Jewish community, and we can’t leave the fight against Islamophobia to the Muslim community. This is a collective fight for all of us.”
Sarwar, a member of the Scottish parliament, this week chaired an all-party meeting, hearing from the Jewish Leadership Council’s public affairs manager for Scotland, Danielle Bett, and Fariha Thomas of the MCS, with both organisations signing a joint statement to “use our shared experiences, shared challenges, and shared ideas to work together”.
They committed to address barriers to reporting hate crime, tackle prejudiced reporting of Muslims and Jews, challenge hatred online, and “help shape” Scottish laws in this area.
SCoJeC said that several Muslim participants expressed their admiration at Jewish communal achievements in the field of welfare “as a model they could emulate”.
Community leaders also discussed the proposed new ‘working definition’ of Islamophobia published by Westminster’s All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which is modelled on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
However the two groups went further, by proposing a new Muslim/Jewish Women’s Network, which would be a Scottish branch of the Nisa-Nashim women’s group set up to build relations and combat prejudice.
They also promised to “build appropriate social services” including “culturally sensitive and faith specific social care services for an ageing population, the accurate reporting of the types of bullying in our schools and how these cases are dealt with, and the greater use of scanning in place of invasive post-mortems wherever possible”.
The #Scottish Council of #Jewish Communities & @MuslimScot signed a joint declaration on #antisemitism & #islamophobia, & discussed "Shared Experiences, Shared Challenges & Shared Ideas" at the @CPGIslamophobia @ScotParl https://t.co/5JzoUoufPb pic.twitter.com/LNgKpAHjOV
— SCoJeC (@SCoJeC) November 28, 2018