By a Newsnet reporter
First Minister Alex Salmond has rounded on UKIP after its Euro candidate in Scotland described a visit to a Mosque by the SNP leader as “sectarian”.
David Coburn, who is standing for Nigel Farage’s party as it bids for a seat in the Euro elections, attacked the First Minister after Mr Salmond visited a mosque last Friday.
Following the visit, Coburn said: “There was Alex Salmond off down to the mosque. If we had done something like that or gone off to the Roman Catholic cathedral, we would be accused of sectarianism.
“What’s more sectarian than popping off down the mosque and telling everyone they should be voting for [the SNP].”
However Mr Salmond pointed out that last Thursday he also met with all Christian denominations at his meeting with church leaders and representatives associated with Action of Churches Together in Scotland, and on Saturday he attended the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Mr Salmond said: “Attacking a visit to a mosque illustrates perfectly why it is so important that we stop UKIP in their tracks – and we have that opportunity in Scotland on Thursday.
“The diversity of modern Scotland is a strength and a source of enrichment to our whole society. That is the progressive politics of the SNP and of Scotland. It is something to be celebrated – as we do across the political spectrum in Scotland – and is the antithesis of the backward-looking, insular and intolerant politics of UKIP.”
UKIP, which has been accused of running a racist agenda, has significant support south of the border but has struggled to make any impact in Scotland, having failed to keep its deposit in any election so far.
Polls indicate that UKIP is still short of achieving enough support for it to gain one of the Scottish Euro seats. However with the Scottish Lib Dems expected to lose their sole Euro MEP after Thursday’s vote, the SNP leader is urging Scots to back his party in order to ensure Scotland remains UKIP free.
Mr Salmond added: “There is massive opposition to UKIP in Scotland, and it is really important that we keep them out of Scottish politics.
“The arithmetic of the polls is very clear that Scotland’s sixth seat is a straight choice between the SNP and UKIP. Voting SNP on Thursday to elect Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh – including people who do not usually vote SNP – is the sure fire way to stop UKIP getting a foothold in Scotland, and denying them a platform to peddle their nasty politics.”
Endorsing the First Minister’s call, Former SNP MEP Winnie Ewing said:
“As the SNP’s first woman parliamentarian – and the party’s first ever Euro-MP – I fervently hope that Tasmina will become our newest in Thursday’s election.
“It is very clear that the choice is between Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Nigel Farage’s UKIP for Scotland’s sixth seat, and I am in no doubt that the vast majority of people in Scotland – regardless of how they might vote in other elections – would prefer the progressive politics and forward-looking vision of Tasmina.
“If elected, Tasmina will be a strong voice for Scotland and the many diverse communities which make up our modern nation. I urge people to vote for her on Thursday.”
Commenting, SNP candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said:
“Winnie Ewing is a political icon who has inspired people across the political spectrum for decades. It is extremely humbling to know that I have her support.
“This election is about making Scotland’s mark in Europe and there can be few greater examples of people who achieved that than our very own Madame Ecosse.
“If I am elected on Thursday I am determined to follow in Winnie Ewing’s footsteps by being a strong voice for Scotland in Europe and standing up for the needs and priorities of people in Scotland at every turn.”