Scotland: Call for More Muslim Candidates in Upcoming Holyrood Elections23 Jun 2020
Political parties in Scotland have been called on to select for Muslim candidates for winnable seats in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections. The call was part of an open letter to party leaders signed by 40 groups. It came after a recent inquiry highlighted the Islamophobia in Scotland’s public life.
The calls come as Scotland prepares for Holyrood (Parliamentary) elections due to take place in May 2021. It is expected that the Scottish National Party (SNP) will make significant gains.
The public inquiry highlighted deep Islamophobia in public life across Scotland
The calls for increased Muslim representation across Scottish political parties came after a recent public inquiry revealed that Islamophobia was deeply entrenched in the country’s public life.
The inquiry, led by Labour MSP, Anas Sarwar, revealed that four-out-of-five Muslims face race hate incidents. Many Muslims felt that the issue is getting worse. Examples included being spat at and being verbally abused in public. The inquiry found that many Muslims sought to change their appearance to avoid being targeted. On the whole, 35.5% of Muslim respondents said Islamophobia was an everyday issue. 83% of all Scottish Muslims have experienced Islamophobia.
The call on parties for increased Muslim representation came in response to the inquiry
It is in response to this inquiry that political parties across Scotland have been called to increase Muslim representation, especially in safe seats. Jawad Khursheed, Chair of Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), Scotland said that the need for fair representation within the Scottish political system is essential.
The open letter said that increasing representation of those of Muslim backgrounds is an important first step towards helping Scottish Muslims integrate better into the wider country. Khursheed noted that in addition to Muslims, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation should also improve.
Humza Yousaf, an SNP MSP welcomed the letter and said that his party has made history in the representation of Scottish Muslims, both in Scotland and in Westminster. He acknowledged, however, that more can be done.
“It is simply unacceptable there has not been a BAME Woman elected to the Scottish Parliament in over 20 years of devolution,” Yousaf said.
Holyrood elections are due to take place in 2021
The call comes as Scotland is preparing for the next Holyrood elections, expected to take place in May 2021. A number of polls are showing that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is leading significantly against both Scottish Labour and Conservative parties, with some polls suggesting an outright landslide.
The SNP has vowed to hold another Independence Referendum, citing the close margins in the 2014 referendum and the subsequent Brexit vote for which Scotland overwhelmingly voted against.