HUMZA Yousaf has praised the work of Scotland’s Christian churches for “strengthening our communities” in his first Easter message as First Minister.

Yousaf, who is the country’s first Muslim head of government, said he valued and admired the work of Christian churches throughout Scotland, which he said played “an exceptionally important role”.

He said: “For Christians, Easter is an enormously important time of year. It’s a time when family and friends come together to celebrate a story at the very heart of Christianity. A story of sacrifice, of hope, of renewal, that provides inspiration to people all around the world.

“We see the results of that inspiration, of course, in the work of our Christian churches throughout the year. In all parts of our country, they play an exceptionally important role, offering spiritual guidance, helping those in need and strengthening our communities.

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“At the same time, they also continue to provide vital support to communities across the developing world. And that contribution is one which I hugely value and admire.

"So I want to thank our Christian communities for the vital role that they play. I want to send my best wishes to Christians everywhere and I want to wish all of you who are celebrating it a very happy and joyous Easter. Happy Easter.”

The First Minister, a practicing Muslim, has been fasting since March 23 and will break his fast on Eid al-Fitr, expected to be held on April 21.