March 23, 2016
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led a motion of condolence for those affected by the attacks in Brussels in the Scottish Parliament Chamber today. Read her full statement below.
I move the motion, which I am sure will be supported by every member of this Parliament.
The terror attacks in Brussels yesterday follow the recent attacks in Ankara and Istanbul. And they come just four months after the dreadful attacks on Paris.
So today we mourn all those who died, we hope for a speedy recovery for those who were injured, and we send our thoughts and best wishes to all those affected.
In doing so we show our solidarity with the people of Belgium, and with victims of terrorism across the globe. I spoke with the Ambassador of Belgium yesterday to express Scotland’s deep shock and sorrow over what had happened and to make clear that Scotland stands in solidarity with the people of Belgium at this time of extreme sadness.
Attacks on our neighbours of course, understandable provoke anxiety here at home as well. Yesterday, I chaired a meeting yesterday of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee. An immediate priority is to help anyone who has been caught up in the attacks – or who is concerned about loved ones. We are and continue to work closely with the UK Government, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that those people have access to the advice, help and information they need.
We are also monitoring the security situation in Scotland. Police Scotland and others are responding proportionately and have increased patrols at key locations such airports and railway stations. However it is important to remember that there is no specific threat in Scotland. People of course should be vigilant, but should go about their daily business without fear.
We are also seeking to provide reassurance to communities who may feel particularly threatened. As news was breaking yesterday of the atrocities in Brussels, I was on my way to a conference in Glasgow dedicated to tackling hate crime.
One of the points we discussed was that after terrorist atrocities, members of our Muslim community often feel a double burden. They feel the same shock and revulsion that everyone else does, but they’ve also got to cope with knowing that there are some who would point the finger of blame at them. So it is important that we provide reassurance and additional protection if necessary and stand shoulder to shoulder.
And in doing that, we will reaffirm a fundamental truth. All of use benefit hugely from being a diverse multi-cultural society that we are. This diversity should be cherished and celebrated. It is a source not of weakness but a source of great strength for our society.
Terrorist attacks are intended to divide us and destroy the freedoms and way of life we value so highly. We must unite as a community here at home – and in solidarity with those in Brussels – to make clear that the terrorist will not succeed.
The evidence from yesterday suggests that is what is happening. One thing which was obvious is that condemnation of terrorism is something which unites people of all faiths and none.
So today’s motion gives all of us in this chamber an opportunity to play our part in promoting that sense of unity. It enables us to put on record our deep sorrow for those who lost their lives yesterday; to show our solidarity with the government and people of Belgium; and to reaffirm once again our commitment to promoting an inclusive, tolerant, diverse society.
I move the motion.