Police investigate death threats against Scottish human rights lawyer @AamerAnwar


Lawyer had recently spoken out against extremism following murder of shopkeeper Asad Shah

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER Aamer Anwar has said that police are investigating death threats made to him after he spoke out against violence and extremism and called for unity in the Muslim community.

Well-known lawyer Aamer Anwar has condemned the “bile and hatred” directed at him in recent days, and has said he is taking threats from “fanatics” very seriously.

Anwar had spoken out against recent violence and extremism in Brussels and Lahore at an event last week in Glasgow, and made a call for unity in the Muslim community following the murder of shopkeeper Asad Shah, which he describes as a “wake-up call”.

“A small minority … believe they can silence me by creating a climate of fear.” Aamer Anwar

In an incident described by police as “religiously prejudiced”, Shah, a shopkeeper in the Shawlands area of the city, was found injured outside his shop on 24 March, and died soon after the attack. Police confirmed that both men were Muslims and a 32-year-old man from Bradford has since appeared in court charged with murder.

Anwar is a prominent human rights lawyer in Scotland. He represents the family of Sheku Bayoh, who are calling for a public inquiry into Bayoh’s death in police custody in 2015, and has campaigned for the closure of Dungavel detention centre.

In a statement, Anwar said: “Having been a campaigner for human rights for over 25 years, I have grown used to the bile and hatred directed at me, sadly that is par for the course.

“On occasion when I have had my life seriously threatened, I have informed the police but have always chosen to keep it private. On this occasion I could no longer remain silent, because of a small minority who believe they can silence me by creating a climate of fear.

“I hold these people directly responsible for creating an atmosphere which has given some the confidence to make threats to my life,” he said. “With a young family I could be forgiven if I had chosen to shut up and walk away. The pressure from the community, friends and family to protect myself from the fanatics has been enormous.

“It is a terrifying and deeply lonely place to be when you say goodbye to your children and wonder if it is for the last time, but the death of Asad Shah should be a wakeup call to our community that we must not be silenced.

“Our so-called community leaders must do much more. They have avoided tackling hatred to preserve their status and that is deeply shameful and hypocritical.”

Shopkeeper Shah, 40, was an Ahmadiya Muslim; a group that face widespread persecution for their beliefs. A crowdfunder set up by local residents to raise money for Shah’s family has reached over PS100,00.

News that threats had been made against Anwar’s life was made public on Sunday [4 March], and since then he has received messages of support from across the political spectrum.

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Picture courtesy of Julia Davidson