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banner Friday, 21 September, 2001, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Swinney's call for racial tolerance
John Swinney at mosque
Mr Swinney praised Scotland's Muslim community
By BBC News Online Scotland's Brian Ponsonby

The leader of the Scottish National Party has paid tribute to Scotland's "patriotic Muslim communities" in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in the United States.

John Swinney told Muslims at Jamia Mosque in Dundee that the attacks were a "test for this country" and underline the need to "promote understanding and tackle intolerance".

Muslim at Dundee mosque
Scotland "a nation of many faiths"
Mr Swinney's comments came shortly before his keynote address to SNP delegates at the party's conference in the city's Caird Hall.

He was accompanied on his visit to the mosque by north east MSP Shona Robison, Angus Robertson MP and Dundee City Councillor Joe Fitzpatrick.

The SNP leader was introduced by Mohammed Arrshad, chairman of Tayside Islamic Centre.

Mr Swinney told Dundee's Muslim community: "Scotland is now a nation of many faiths.

"That multi-faith culture has enriched Scottish society and is an aspect of this country we should all cherish.

"Tolerance and commitment to pluralism are at the heart of my beliefs and love of peace and justice unites our religions in this difficult world.

Mr Swinney said the party conference opened "in the shadow" of the attacks in the US.

'Spoke movingly'

"We opened our conference with a motion of condolence for everyone who has been affected by those horrific attacks" he said.

"The motion was seconded by Bashir Ahmad, the convener of Scots Asians for Independence, who spoke movingly of Islam as a religion of peace.

"Bashir said the mass murder of innocent people was a blasphemy which those of every religion must condemn.

"The reaction to last week's events are a test for this country, not only for the politicians but for everyone in Scotland.

"The attacks in New York and Washington were a crime against humanity, against democracy and civilisation.

"Our response must reflect those values.

"Scotland is a nation of many different faiths and communities - we are privileged to have in our country one of the most productive and patriotic Moslem communities.

'Finger of blame'

Mr Aarshad said: "What has happened in America last week, we have all felt the sorrow.

"People who have lost lives, who have lost loved ones, we have stood with them from the beginning.

"We will work with them until its proven who was behind it."

But Mr Aarshad said the "finger of blame" had been pointed towards Islamic nations "without proof".

He said everyone was "looking for justice" and blame could not be apportioned only to Muslim countries.

He added: "The Muslim nation is a loving one. We aren't looking for revenge, we are looking for justice."

See also:

20 Sep 01 | SNP
Salmond in backlash warning
19 Sep 01 | SNP
Euro 'no' vote urged by MSP
12 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scotland's leaders united in sorrow
26 Aug 01 | Scotland
SNP takes policy message on tour
23 Sep 00 | SNP
Emphatic SNP win for Swinney
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