Yousaf ‘feared attack after being racially abused online’

The justice secretary has told a court he received abuse from Stuart Smith after posting a tweet about the 2015 Paris attacks.

Yousaf ‘feared attack after being racially abused online’

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has told a court he feared an attack from a “keyboard warrior” amid claims he was racially abused on Twitter.

Yousaf said he was singled out by Stuart Smith, 57, following the Paris terror attacks in November 2015.

The 35-year-old SNP MSP tweeted ‘#PrayForParis’ and claimed he received an abusive reply from Mr Smith.

The tweet, which was accompanied by an account with a gun as its avatar, was posted from an account in Scotland.

Smith, from Gretna, is on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court where he denies behaving in a threatening or abusive manner aggravated by religious prejudice.

Yousaf said he first received a tweet in Arabic from an account belonging to a ‘Stuart Ben Smith’ stating he was a ‘Kafir’, which means non-believer.

Yousaf told the court that this was a “derogatory comment” towards Muslims. The tweet went on to say: “Humza Yousaf, good Scots name I am sure he is 90% backing muslim killers. Be having a whip round for terrorist families soon.”

Yousaf stated that he had been “singled out because of his faith.” He said: “I spent the hours before like everyone else shocked at the events and the atrocities in Paris.

“I did nothing but send out a public message supporting the victims and was on radio and media asserting my solidarity with the victims.

“It is unacceptable that I would be supporting these terrorists and collecting funds for them despite all the evidence to the contrary.

“To make that suggestion is hurtful and stressful to me.

“There is only one reason why it was directed at me and none of my other colleagues were treated in a similar way.

“It’s because of my faith – my Muslim faith.”

Yousaf stated he could be found very easily and have his movements “telegraphed” by “keyboard warriors”.

He said: “I can’t say for certain everyone is a keyboard warrior and one could cause me harm, and that gives me fear getting a tweet from Scotland with a gun as an avatar.”

The trial and evidence continues before Sheriff Sean Murphy QC.

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