Justice secretary reports death threats to police

Humza Yousaf says he has received emails that clearly depict violence towards him and his family.

Justice secretary reports  death threats to police Getty Images

Scotland’s justice secretary has contacted police after receiving death threats from viewers of a right-wing online video.

Humza Yousaf said he had contemplated leaving politics over the threats but said he intends to stand firm as quitting would hand victory to those who perpetrate hatred.

The threats came after a video was posted on the website of the Canadian right-wing media platform Rebel News, featuring Ezra Levant criticising Yousaf over Scotland’s controversial new hate crime legislation.

The Daily Record reported that the minister then received an email saying he and his family should be “firebombed” and he should be “butchered”.

Yousaf told the newspaper: “I can’t really remember a time when there hasn’t been racist abuse but, generally speaking, it has not been particularly violent or threatening.

“What is different about the recent emails is the clear depiction of violence towards myself and towards my family.

“I know 99% of the time, these are keyboard warriors but the concern is, could there be that 1% that actually are unhinged enough to act upon the threats that they make?

“For the first time, I had the fleeting thought ‘I just don’t know if doing the job I do is worth putting my family at potential risk’.”

Yousaf said he has been left “shaken” by the threats, but added: “I fully intend to stand but it is the first time I’ve contemplated otherwise.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We have received a complaint of offensive communications and inquiries are ongoing.”

Mr Levant has been approached for comment.

What is the hate crime legislation?

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill would, if passed, create an offence of “stirring up hatred” against a protected group, expanding on existing laws protecting racial groups.

The Scottish Government says the legislation would provide greater protection for victims of hate crime.

But the proposed legislation has sparked a backlash, with opponents fearing it could have a damaging effect on free speech.

Yousaf denies the bill is a threat to freedom of expression, saying the bar for charging someone for the offence will be “very high”, with any accusations having to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

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