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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Terror debate raises stark views
Stephen Stewart
BBC Scotland news website

"A Stealth bomber in Iraq is the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber in Scotland".

Glasgow Airport door
The routine has returned - but has Scotland changed?

That was the message of Aamer Anwar, a leading human rights lawyer, during a BBC Scotland programme entitled "Scotland After the Bomb".

Sharp intakes of breath as well as rounds of applause could be heard as he gave his views during the debate, which drew a studio audience from across the UK.

Known for his smooth delivery and sharp suits, Mr Anwar gave another firebrand performance during the programme, broadcast eight days after the first major terror attack on Scottish soil.

He was joined by Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister; David Cairns MP, Scotland Office minister; Bashir Mann, convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland and Farkhanda Chaudhry, of the Islamic Society of Britain.

Mr Anwar, who has achieved prominence as a anti-racism campaigner, said Scotland had been gripped by complacency since the revelation that the suspects were not native Scots.

He said: "There is no justification for the murder of innocent people. The US and Israel, however, are equal to any 9/11 hijacker.

"Why is the government so desperate to deny a link between Iraq and Afghanistan and what happened in London and Glasgow?

Aamer Anwar
We are no different from England or Wales where people have been recruited (by radical Islamic groups)
Aamer Anwar
Human rights lawyer

"We should not differentiate between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. The effects are exactly the same. They kill innocent people."

He added that it was a myth that there was an inclusive, multicultural Scotland as many young Muslim felt alienated by the prevalent culture of "binge drinking and Big Brother".

Mr Anwar said: "We are no different from England or Wales where people have been recruited (by radical Islamic groups)."

More than a week after the attack and the nation may still be trying to recover from shock and the notion that Scotland is not exempt from terrorism.

'Innocent people'

But the aftermath of Saturday's events had already crystallised views among politicians, faith leaders and audience members.

When asked whether the attack on Glasgow Airport had been triggered by politics or faith, Ms Sturgeon said: "I personally believe that the troops should be brought home from Iraq.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Ms Sturgeon said the extremist attacks were unacceptable

"I do not believe that justifies blowing up innocent people in an airport. There are deep concerns about Iraq.

"But change should be effected through peaceful democratic means."

Farkhanda Chaudhry said that people should be better informed of what provoked the recent failed attacks.

She said: "I would like to know why it is that these people are conducting these attacks. It could be a matter of faith or politics but I don't know."

Up for discussion was how politicians, from north and south of the border, should re-examine security, policing and intelligence gathering.

Greater positivity

The impact on community relations throughout Scotland was also analysed. Mr Cairns made it clear that he viewed any terror attacks as a "perversion of Islam".

He said: "Most Muslims do not have any truck with these things."

Bashir Mann agreed, pointing out that Islam was a religion of tolerance, peace and diversity.

He called for greater positivity about the contribution of the Muslim community to the wider Scottish society.

Mr Mann said: "We should not blame the whole community and must put everything in the proper perspective."

Debate hears 'wake-up call'

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