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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2006, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Research studies race attitudes
By Kenneth Macdonald
BBC Newsnight Scotland

Researchers at Glasgow University have been studying how the majority of Scots feel about people who live in Scotland but who are "not like them".

They used social attitude data to gauge "street-level prejudice" among majority Scots, a group that excludes Muslims, English immigrants and their partners.

They concluded that there was less Anglophobia than Islamophobia.

More than half thought a "true Scot" had to be born in Scotland but only 16% thought a "true Scot" had to be white.

Just over 1% of the Scottish population is Muslim

Members of the Muslim and English communities are Scotland's biggest 'visible' and 'invisible' minorities.

Just over 1% of the Scottish population is Muslim; 8% are English.

The findings, published by the Scottish Centre for Social Research, show that 49% of those polled held negative rather than positive views of Muslims.

The comparable figure for English immigrants was 38%.

Behind the headline figures, there is a wealth of apparently contradictory attitudes.

More than 60% of majority Scots thought there should be a law outlawing discrimination against both Muslims and English.

Only a minority agreed with the idea that Muslims were taking the jobs of majority Scots - and that figure was even smaller when asked about English immigrants.

About 50% agreed Muslims contributed hard work and skills to Scotland; 60% thought the same of the English.

More than 40% thought more Muslim immigration would threaten Scotland's national identity - slightly fewer disagreed.

Prof Bill Miller
"Devolution has made the majority of Scots more relaxed, more receptive, more welcoming, as well as more proud of Scotland
Prof Bill Miller

But the situation was reversed when people were asked about more English people coming to Scotland: a third felt there would be a threat but nearly half said not.

Other answers revealed most Scots suspect the primary loyalties of both minorities lie outside Scotland.

More doubted the loyalty of English immigrants than Muslims.

Just 3% of majority Scots said they would be unhappy to have a close relative form a long-term relationship with an English immigrant.

That figure rose to 22% for a relationship with a Muslim.

But 45% said they would be happy to acquire a Muslim relative.

To some, the figures may paint a grim picture.

But Professor Miller, who carried out the study with Dr Asifa Hussain, said it showed plenty of good news.

'Thrown out'

He said: "Devolution has made the majority of Scots more relaxed, more receptive, more welcoming, as well as more proud of Scotland.

"They feel more at home in their own land and therefore more willing to welcome other people."

The primary data was gathered from 1,158 people in 2003, well after 9/11 but well before 7/7.

Osama Saeed, of the Muslim Association of Britain, thinks things have worsened for Scottish Muslims since then.

"I'm shocked at the number of people that don't see their future in this country," he said.

"And it's not through lack of love for this country or their life here. It's just that they think one day the time will come when they will be thrown out.

"For me that won't wash - I can't go anywhere else. I was born and brought up here and it's got to work. We've got to go out and hold hands and explain ourselves."


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Watch full interview with Professor Miller



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