HUMZA Yousaf has revealed that he lives in fear for his life because of the level of sustained racist death threats that have been issued against him and his family.

The transport minister says that he has to carry a personal panic alarm. He took the security measure on police advice.

Yousaf said carrying the alarm was now "par for the course". He keeps it on his person at all times following online incitement to kill him. He said he felt he had to “look over his shoulder”.

Yousaf spoke out after Labour MSP Anas Sarwar claimed a senior councillor told him that "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown Muslim Paki"

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Yousaf highlighted a catalogue of graphically violent threats he had faced.

He said the frequency of the abuse had intensified since the vote for Brexit and Donald Trump's election as US president.

Yousaf cited a post on Twitter about him that stated a "bullet in the f.....g face would cure that".

Another one showed a picture of Yousaf with his family and said "yet another problem that a machine gun would solve".

In light of the threats, Yousaf said he no longer held constituency surgeries alone and now always has a colleague with him. He has also had to place additional security at his home and constituency office.

Yousaf said he received abuse every week, as well as almost every time he sent a Tweet. The Glasgow Pollock MSP said he had also been targeted on other social media sites such as Facebook.

He said: "People have said if you see him on the street spit on him. I get it every week without a shadow of a doubt and some of it can be very, very violent in terms of its manifestation."

Yousaf says he is now “very, very reluctant” to post online pictures of his family following death threats against them.

Terror attacks such as those in London and Manchester last year led to an upsurge in threats against him.

Yousaf said: "As soon as hear of a terror attack on TV my first instinct is sympathy to those that have lost their life.

"The second is you are feeling tense because you are worried that if an attack is carried out in the name of Islam, you face a backlash.

"That's the second instinct that I have and it's not healthy."

Yousaf claimed the threats were made worse by anti-immigration and xenophobic language used by some Brexit and Trump supporters.

He said: "During Brexit and post-Brexit it's got worse without a shadow of doubt. Frankly part of it is not helped by the polarised debate around faith, whether that's in Europe or across the pond in the United States. It has exacerbated things. Brexit is a horrible example of that, with the rhetoric and anti-immigration tone."

Yousaf added: "I get worried about my family. I've had a private briefing from police on the back of reporting some incidents. They said these are the steps that you might want to take to protect your constituency office and so forth. It's not a nice place you want to be in. But I've had to take all those steps.

"I carry a personal alarm. I just do that par for the course and carry it in my jacket. I shouldn't have a need to carry it."

One repeated threat that has really upset Yousaf is people calling for him to be spat on in the street.

He said: "The kind of stuff that you are seeing more and more is stuff like people saying 'if you see him spit on him'. It's probably all mouth and no trousers, but at the same time if I walk down Buchanan Street, I ask myself will some guy be spitting on me or gobbing on me. I have to look over my shoulder."

Yousaf said that while most of the abuse was online, he had also been targeted while out campaigning.

He highlighted an incident last autumn in the Glasgow Pollok constituency he represents at Holyrood.

Yousaf said: "I was doing a street stall, only a matter of four or five months ago, and someone said to me something along the lines of 'you're not from Scotland, so why should I take notice of the Scottish National Party? Why should we take notice of you?'. So I tried to walk down the street with the person to talk to them and to explain in no uncertain terms that I was from here. But they went into a cafe and that was the end of it."


Humza Yousaf said Twitter and Facebook have failed to take any action against people on social media who have threatened and abused him.

He claimed that many of those sending aggressive messages still had social media accounts.

Yousaf said: "Those that I've reported for really outrageous Tweets are still online. They've still got accounts - I'm talking about Twitter and Facebook."

Yousaf also warned other aspiring ethnic minority politicians that they would “absolutely” get a “torrent” of racial abuse.

He said: "If I was speaking to another aspiring politician [from an ethnic minority background] I would say to them by all means go into politics but when you do you must absolutely and unfortunately fully expect that you will get a torrent of abuse both racially and religious abuse.

"It goes with the territory. That doesn't mean for a second that it is acceptable but it will absolutely happen."

The Sunday Herald contacted both Twitter and Facebook but the two social media giants failed to comment.