>If it hadn’t been for Yousuf, I would most likely never have known about the case of Neil MacGregor, who has today been referred for psychiatric assessment after admitting threatening to blow up Glasgow Central Mosque and kill a Muslim a day.
Yousuf was concerned at the lack of attention this had received in the media compared to what would have happened if a Muslim had threatened to blow up a Church and launched a spirited campaign to get the media to cover the story.
It well may be that the Sheriff’s decision, and the muted way in which the BBC have reported this ist he right one in this case. However, I am not convinced that, had the situation been reversed and this person had been a Muslim with mental health difficulties, that he would have received the same treatment in the media.
For a start, rather than suggesting that the root of his problems could lie in his military service, the report would have been full of fury and hysteria that someone with potentially terrorist leanings could ever have got into our Army. We’d have had pictures of every place he’d ever been posted to and if any member of the Royal Family had ever visited anywhere he was stationed, then there would be the “Royals were in danger” angle too.
Nor would the story have been tucked away in the Scottish regional headlines – every tabloid would be screaming it from every page. We’d have interviews with everyone who ever knew this person, particularly if they could point to him being a loner or going to the Mosque a lot.
The Sheriff referring a Muslim in the same position for anything other than forever in a high security prison might well have come in for criticism as being a namby pamby liberal softie and every decision he had ever made would be pored over with a fine tooth comb by the baying press.
I am not suggesting that we should cover Mr MacGregor’s story in such a sensationalist way because that would also be wrong – only expressing my scepticism at the likelihood that a Muslim in the same circumstances would have received the same treatment.