HUMZA Yousaf, Scotland's minister for international development, has claimed that the level of Islamophobia and fear currently being felt by Muslims in Scotland has not been so intense since the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York.

Yousaf, an SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, said that he had faced a barrage of intense abuse online, including threats of physical violence, which are being investigated by the police as hate crimes.

The politician, who has been at the forefront of campaigns for Scotland to welcome refugees, said: "From my perspective this is as concerning as it felt in the days after 9/11. There was a tangible feeling of fear and it was very tense for the Muslim community. I've not felt that since - even after 7/7 it still didn't feel as tense.

"I always attract a lot of abuse online as a Government Minister but post-Paris there was a noticeable difference in the frequency and the intensity of the abuse online. It was the first time that people had made physical threats and I reported that to the police. It's very concerning.

"I've also noticed that people no longer feel they have to be anonymous. It was always the case before that people would hide behind aliases but now they are using their own profiles, or they appear to, with real names and pictures of them and their families. People are quite brazen."

Yousaf, who successfully pursued a conviction against a man who racially abused him while he was selling the Big Issue as part of a charity event last February, also encouraged others to report Islamophobic incidents.

"People perhaps used to feel that this sort of abuse was par for the course - now they know that it's unacceptable. It's right up there as a hate crime and people understand that better," he added.

"But we in the Scottish Government need to continue the awareness raising campaigns and need to send out a very strong message that the government and the police will come down on this like a ton of bricks.

"We've also got to reach out to the non-Muslim community. We need to take time to speak to them, break bread with them and be more open than ever before."

Police Scotland confirmed that there had been an increase in reporting cases of Isamophobia with 51 reports a week before the Paris attack, and over 130 two weeks later. However, it is thought that under-reporting is still an issue.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams Divisional Commander in Edinburgh, said the force was working with a number of groups to improve reporting rates including the Muslim Women's Association. He added: "I want to reassure anyone who is a victim of this type of despicable crime that we will listen to you and we will take your report seriously."