SHAFAQNA – The tone of the UK Government‘s anti-terrorist campaign will likely drive the majority of young Scots Muslims towards a Yes vote in a second referendum campaign, academics claim.
Ahead of presenting a new study to parliamentarians and voluntary sector groups, the report’s key authors has also said the role of Theresa May as Home Secretary before becoming Prime Minister would likely see young Muslims opt for independence.
The study, carried out by academics at Newcastle University and the University of St Andrews, found Muslims could play a much bigger role in politics in Scotland but many are put off engaging too visibly because of Islamophobia.
It states that one of the key deterrents was Westminster’s Prevent campaign, which many felt bred a culture of suspicion, even within classrooms.
Peter Hopkins, professor of social geography at Newcastle University and one of the report authors, said UK Government policies featured regularly in discussions with those who took part in the study, adding that the personal role of Mrs May will be a factor.
He added: “The political participation of young Muslims in Scotland is largely shaped by global political issues and their experiences of Scottish politics, such as the independence referendum and debates about nationalism. But Islamophobia and negative representation in the media is damaging their confidence to play a much more visible role in society.
“Political leaders should take the participation of young Muslims seriously as they are a politically engaged and interested group, whose resources could be drawn upon for the better of Scottish society.”
The Herald revealed yesterday that most younger Muslims saw Scottish nationalism as inclusive, “progressive, civic and liberal” with the poll itself often cited as “engendering an interest in mainstream Scottish politics”.
The research found a minority of Muslims were concerned about the prospect of breaking from the UK, citing doubts about the economic viability and security of an independent Scotland.
Co-author of the report, Dr Robin Finlay, added: “This research has brought up some interesting and important issues about ethnic minorities and forms of nationalism.
“Many young Muslims in Scotland perceive Scottish nationalism as a more inclusive and civic form of nationalism, as opposed to the type of nationalist movements we’re seeing across Europe which are partly based on a divisive rejection of multiculturalism.
“Scottish nationalism is something that many young Muslims feel they can support as an ethnic minority as it offers a way to engage in mainstream politics.”
Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Tam Baillie, said: “Young people in Scotland have proven to be fully engaged when they are included in political processes such as elections and the Scottish referendum. It is encouraging that that young Muslims want to play a more active role in Scottish political life, as politics should represent all young people, not just the few.
“I am heartened that despite the challenges, there are consistently hopeful messages in this report about the valuable contribution made by Muslim young people through political engagement.
“We need recognise the barriers of Islamophobia and tackle it head on to create an equal and vibrant political environment that is inclusive of all Scotland’s young people. “