A MAJOR one-day conference on Islamophobia in Scotland is to be held later this year, writes Kirsteen Paterson.

Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre is to invite experts, academics, agencies and members of the public to a landmark summit in Glasgow in October to examine the scale of prejudice faced by the country’s Muslims.

The event will include the presentation of new research into the issue by Newcastle and Edinburgh universities and speakers will include former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, of advocacy group Cage.

Details are yet to be finalised but Smina Akhtar, director of Amina MWRC, says it is urgently required.

The Glasgow-based organisation supports 4,000 women through advocacy and outreach work and this week launched its own research into religious hate crime.

Statistics published earlier this year put the overall number of hate crimes motivated by religion in 2014-15 at 569, the lowest level in 10 years.

However, the figures do not break this category down by religious grouping and Akhtar says a lack of clear data is hampering efforts to target prejudice against Muslims.

She told The National the problem is exacerbated by an unwillingness by victims to come forward, saying: “Nobody knows the extent of the problem because there is so much under-reporting.

“The message that we are getting is that people have experienced it but they are not reporting it because they don’t feel that anything will be done or they are not quite sure what a hate crime is.

“Just because the numbers are low doesn’t mean it is not happening, but nobody is going to put resources into an issue where the numbers are so low.

“We feel it is time to try and find out what the real picture is.”