Labour councillor told Anas Sarwar he wouldn’t vote for “brown, Muslim Paki”

Anas Sarwar

The prominent Scottish politician Anas Sarwar has said that a Labour councillor told him that he couldn’t vote for him because Scotland wasn’t ready for a “brown, Muslim Paki.”

The Scottish MP and former Westminster MP revealed the shameful slur to highlight what he insists is institutional racism blighting Scottish society.

Sarwar said the incident happened as he campaigned to be Scottish Labour leader last summer and the councillor told him why he could not support his bid.

And it wasn’t the only such insult. Another senior Labour member told Sarwar she had been planning to back him for leader until she saw a picture of his wife wearing a hijab.

Sarwar told the Daily Record: “What I am hoping to do by talking about this is to call out these incidents so we hold ourselves to a higher standard and we start talking about racism and Islamophobia in the same way we do about other forms of prejudice.”

Sarwar, 34, lost out to Richard Leonard in the leadership contest. And while he doesn’t believe his ethnic background cost him victory, the experience left him determined to do more to tackle racism in society.

Sarwar – the son of the UK’s first Muslim MP, Mohammad Sarwar – is launching the Scottish Parliament’s first cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia.

“We rightly talk about everyday sexism, we rightly talk about everyday homophobia, we don’t talk about everyday racism, we don’t talk about everyday Islamophobia,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that Islamophobia is on the rise both in Scotland, across the UK and, indeed, right across the world.

“What I am hoping to do through the cross-party group on Islamophobia is provide a platform for us to talk about it and to allow people to voice their concerns and look at the legislative framework.”

Sarwar believes terrorist incidents have fuelled Islamophobia around the world, with the problem particularly prominent online. Recorded hate crimes towards Muslims in Scotland almost doubled between 2015 and 2016.

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