Report recommends Scottish journalists, police attend Islamophobia awareness training

Report recommends Scottish journalists, police attend Islamophobia awareness training
2 min read
14 July, 2021
A new report has urged police and on media organisations to hire from diverse communities in order to prevent Islamophobia.
The report found that verbal and physical assaults on Muslims have intensified [Getty]

Journalists and police should undergo training on the role of the media in "fostering Islamophobia", a new report by Newcastle University says.

The report, produced by Newcastle University professor Peter Hopkins, found that racism against Muslims has increased in recent years. Hopkins made several recommendations, including the creation of reporting guidelines and regulating the use of photographs and other visual imagery in reporting.

The study found that verbal and physical assaults have intensified, especially on public transport, with four fifths of Muslims living in Scotland saying they had experienced Islamophobia.

The report was commissioned by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, along with a cross-party group of MSPs looking at tackling Islamophobia. It sets out 45 recommendations for organisations.

In his letter to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Sarwar says: "The report makes for very difficult reading, but I hope you can find the time to digest it.

"As hard as it is to read, imagine what it is like for our fellow Scots who face the hatred detailed in its pages every single day."

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The recommendations include drafting a formal definition of Islamophobia, diversifying recruitment to government and media positions and requiring local authorities, schools and Police Scotland to provide training on countering Islamophobia.

In response to the report's findings and recommendations, the Scottish government said in a statement: "We are committed to tackling hate crime and prejudice, including Islamophobia in all its forms, and we will carefully consider this inquiry's recommendations.

"New hate crime laws will provide the police and courts with additional powers so those who would deliberately target others due to their religion or other characteristics can be prosecuted."

In the UK, concerns about Islamophobia in the ruling Conservative Party prompted a long-delayed independent inquiry. The probe was criticised by Muslim groups and activists for deliberately leaving out Muslim members.

Last month the investigation led by Professor Swaran Singh concluded that anti-Muslim sentiment was a problem within Tory ranks.

A 2020 YouGov poll found that over half of Conservative Party members see Islam as a threat to the British way of life.