There are no right or wrong answers. But the questions speak volumes. For the first time the Scottish government is setting out to discover the diversity of Muslim communities in Scotland and how much they may be affected by Islamophobia. Questionnaires which will help to shape future policy on Islamophobia are now due in next Friday (19 September) so there is still time for you to take part.
The questionnaire has been circulated through the wide network of community groups. Unfortunately we did not receive details in time to include them in the last enewsletter but we have just been told that the deadline has been extended by a week to give people enough time to complete the forms.
Many of the questions in the survey echo concerns expressed at the first multicultural discussion event held by Leith Open Space in 2005. The first question in particular catches the eye:
Which groups of people, if any, are more likely to experience Islamophobia in Scotland? Women ? Muslims wearing religious dress? In the aftermath of the London bombings of 2005, most Muslim women attending the Open Space event, could give examples of what is known as ‘low level aggressions’ in shops and on buses. (You can read the report which we sent to government, media and voluntary agencies by clicking here).
As the government questionnaire notes, England and Wales have carried out surveys of Muslim communities but this is the first one to happen in Scotland. Kerstin Maier, of the Scottish Government Communities Analytical Services, explains:
“We are very keen to tackle Islamophobia where and when it happens, and the findings of this research will be used internally within the Scottish Government in order to improve the quality of engagement with Muslim communities, and more importantly, to inform future policies on Islamophobia. In this process, findings may be shared with the relevant Scottish Ministers. However, individual responses will remain confidential, anonymous, and unidentifiable at any stage, and the general findings will not be publicly available.”
And there are no right or wrong answers!
If you want to know more Kerstin says to call her on 0131 244 0681