SCOTLAND will today welcome the first refugees from Syria when they arrive at Glasgow Airport – and The National would like to extend them the warmest welcome.

The Scottish Government, local councils, charities and communities have been working hard behind the scenes under the Syrian Resettlement Programme to make sure they have decent accommodation, services and the support they so desperately need.

Just hours before the first in a series of charter flights carrying vulnerable Syrians arrived in Scotland, the First Minister stressed than any hate crime in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris is “totally unacceptable”.

Nicola Sturgeon made the comments as people in Scotland and throughout Europe observed one minute of silence yesterday for the victims of the massacre.

The SNP leader was at Glasgow Central Mosque for the tribute with Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Europe minister Humza Yousaf where she stressed: “These people are fleeing the terror of Isis (Daesh), that’s why as a community and in co-operation with other countries we have a part to play in dealing with the refugee crisis.”

Sturgeon, who had earlier chaired another Scottish Government Resilience meeting, also highlighted that the refugees coming to the UK through the Syrian Vulnerable Peoples Relocation Scheme have “undergone stringent security checks”.

The refugees will be settled in homes across the UK with the help of local authorities which have pledged their support. The Home Office has confirmed offers from more than 45 local authorities – including 17 in Scotland which have committed to taking in refugees before Christmas.

However, the Home Office and the Scottish Government would not reveal details of how many refugees would be arriving today or where they would be located.

While the overall threat level to the UK is now ranked as “severe”, Sturgeon added: “People in Scotland remain safe to go about their day-to-day business.

“There is absolutely no place for bigotry and prejudice in Scotland and this government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in 21st-century Scotland. I urge people not to let these terrorists win by dividing us and driving a wedge between the multi-cultural society Scotland is home to,” she said.

“We are stronger when united and that is one of our strengths. We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance. These people are fleeing their homes in the search for protection and security, and we are their refuge. We cannot let the actions of the few destroy the safety of the many.”

Nabil Shaikh, general secretary of Glasgow Central Mosque, said: “These crimes are not in the name of Islam, they are not Muslims, full stop.

“So, we need to educate people that whilst they might go around hijacking our religion to serve their own causes, this has nothing to do with Islam and we do not consider them Muslims.

“I think for Nicola Sturgeon to be here at Glasgow Central Mosque is a very strong statement that is being made to the world that Scotland’s leaders are standing side by side our community.

“The Muslim community feels a double burden when atrocities like this happen and she is a pillar for us in terms of strength when she comes out here and makes it very clear it is not Muslims who are perpetrating these crimes.”

The National View: Our new refugee neighbours deserve a warm welcome