Far right threat­ens Scots lawyer who wit­nessed terror at­tack

Sunday Herald - - AFTER BARCELONA - BY PETER SWIN­DON

HU­MAN RIGHTS lawyer Aamer An­war has been bom­barded by hate mail from far-right Twit­ter trolls af­ter he was caught up in the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Barcelona.

The Univer­sity of Glas­gow rec­tor, who was in the Span­ish city for a con­fer­ence, was widely in­ter­viewed in the media af­ter he saw the van ca­reer into pedes­tri­ans. He told re­porters he would have been hit had it hap­pened 10 sec­onds ear­lier.

On Twit­ter, for­mer leader of the English De­fence League, Tommy Robin­son, de­scribed An­war as a “lawyer for Isis ter­ror­ist Aqsa Mah­mood”, while An­war’s ap­pear­ance on tele­vi­sion prompted a stream of abuse from ex­trem­ists.

An­war rep­re­sented Mah­mood’s fam­ily af­ter she trav­elled from Glas­gow to Syria in 2013 to marry. Last year, An­war re­ceived death threats when he called for unity in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity fol­low­ing the killing of Asad Shah, the Glas­gow shop­keeper mur­dered by Tan­veer Ahmed for al­legedly “dis­re­spect­ing” Is­lam.

On Fri­day, An­war posted a col­la­tion of dozens of abu­sive tweets about him fol­low­ing the Barcelona terror at­tack.

He said: “This is just some of the hate I’ve read to­day fol­low­ing the Barcelona at­tack and my call­ing it an at­tack on a sea of hu­man­ity.”

Last night, they were still com­ing in. Among the mes­sages was a tweet, ac­com­pa­nied by a graphic of a bomb by @steven say­ing “u know, he ought to be wor­ried as he’d be a rly gd [re­ally good] tar­get for any new vig­i­lante group”. An­other @al­lah­bin­bag wrote: “Shame he didn’t get hit by the van.” User @buck­eye66669 added: “Too

damned bad. Would have been poetic jus­tice.” And @leecaseys said: “Shame not ten sec­onds ear­lier.”

Other on­line trolls sug­gested An­war was “there to watch”, “knew it was com­ing” and “was one of them”. User @1968Tosh tweeted the lawyer to say: “Per­haps you can find the driver and rep­re­sent him.” An­other user @MrJaxDe­mon added: “More clients for him then.” User @ ba­mafan­skd said: “Au­thor­i­ties should ques­tion him. He could have been scout­ing the lo­cale for them.” An­other Twit­ter user @corker1970 re­ferred to An­war as an “ISIS lawyer”.

An­war said: “I wouldn’t nor­mally re­spond to rightwing ex­trem­ism but I was in the thick of it in Barcelona and I was hor­ri­fied so, on this oc­ca­sion, I am call­ing it out be­cause I’ve had enough. “I am still in shock af­ter what hap­pened. When you see com­ments that wish I died or that I was in­volved it leaves me even more shaken. In the con­text of the ter­ror­ist at­tack it’s just sick­en­ing that th­ese peo­ple can laugh and make jokes. “The woman saw scream­ing for her chil­dren, whose voice I can’t get out of my head, was wear­ing a hi­jab. Ev­ery race, creed and colour was rep­re­sented that day.”

Aamer An­war was sin­gled out on Twit­ter by for­mer EDL leader Tommy Robin­son, inset

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