Scotland has been accused of state-sponsored racism over language policies which treat Gaelic as ‘more Scottish’ than languages which are “spoken predominantly by brown Muslims”.
Holyrood’s promotion of Scotland as a “more tolerant, welcoming nation” than neighbouring England is false, according to academic Nighet Riaz, who claims that ring-fenced funding for Gaelic but not Urdu amounts to “anti-Muslim racism” by the far-left Scottish government.
A former regional candidate for the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), and its current “equalities officer” for Pollokshields in Glasgow, Riaz condemned the government over its treating the Celtic language differently to languages widely spoken in Pakistan, for example by granting more than £5 million last year to the Gaelic quango Bòrd na Gaidhlig.
“The reality is that no new funding is being diverted to minority languages other than Gaelic which is ring-fenced by the Gaelic School Capital Fund and protected by legislation, as it is seen as the ‘Scottish’ language,” The Times reported her saying.
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“We cannot ignore that Gaelic is spoken by white Scots, whilst Urdu is spoken predominantly by brown Muslims. This suggests that ethnic minorities, Muslims in particular, are not considered equally Scottish as white ‘native’ Scots,” the University of the West of Scotland academic added.
Riaz was condemned for her remarks, however, by Scottish Gaelic poet and musician Griogair Labhruidh, who said her attack on what amounts to “financial aid given to ensuring the survival of Scotland’s Gaelic language” was “ignorant and racist”.
Writing in pro-Scottish independence magazine Bella Caledonia, Labhruidh branded Riaz’s claim of discrimination against “brown people” as “uninformed”, highlighting contextual information such as the lack of public funding for Polish — a language spoken by more people in Scotland than Urdu.
Pointing out estimates suggest just 57,000 people are fluent in Scottish Gaelic, compared to “an estimated 66 million people who can speak Urdu worldwide”, he adds that “part of the Scottish government’s commitment to Gaelic is surely … a commitment to ensure that our language survives the global onslaught against indigenous cultures — that we can carry on our own language, culture and tradition to the next generation and that Scotland doesn’t just get swallowed up into global mono-culturalism”.