POLICE Scotland are to step up patrols around mosques and other religious buildings to reassure communities amidst an anti-Muslim hate campaign.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said call handlers had also been briefed to escalate calls appropriately, and “intelligence assets” were “looking for signals” in the coming days.

The extra steps are being taken ahead of April 3, which has been dubbed “Punish a Muslim Day” on social media and in letters sent to several MPs in England earlier this month.

The campaign suggests people earn ‘points’ on a sliding scale by attacking Muslims.

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In the single known Scottish case related to the campaign, a 14-year-old boy last week asked a pupil outside a Glasgow school if he could rip off her hijab so it could be filmed to earn 25 points.

The letters are now being investigated by counter-terrorism officers in North East England.

No letters have appeared so far in Scotland, but the campaign has caused anxiety among Muslim communities.

At Holyrood last night, the first meeting of a cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia heard reports of children being scared, of adults considering staying off work, and even one couple considering cancelling their wedding on April 3.

Many speakers sought reassurances from the police, but also said they felt reluctant to give the hate campaign more publicity it case it spread alarm.

Senior police officers stressed there was no intelligence of any direct threat to anyone in Scotland, and the matter was “a risk” rather than a threat.

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Their advice was for people to be vigilant and go about their daily business without being scared, but also to contact the police immediately if anything did happen.

DCC Gwynne, who is from Northern Ireland, told the meeting: “We are taking this seriously. I was brought up in a place where people were killing each other and hating each because they were a Protestant or a Catholic. I understand this.

“I’ve lived through a similar thing. I get the fear behind it, and hence we’re taking it seriously.”

He added: “Our job is to stop that cancer in life which is hatred. Our job is to deal with it and stand between you and that harm. Not just next week, but in any week of this year.”

Chief Inspector Shaheen Baber said control rooms were already running a unique exercise in relation to the hate campaign, and relevant calls would be “tagged as a priority” for a “faster response”.

He said: “On the day there will be extra patrols to make sure that our community centres, including other minorities, get extra attention.”

Glasgow Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, chair of the cross-party group, said: “We recognise the fear and alarm the ‘Punish a Muslim’ campaign is causing, which has no place in society.

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“An attack on one person living in Scotland, regardless of faith, is an attack on us all.

“Our advice to people concerned by this campaign is to go about your daily life, but remain vigilant, and we urge everyone to look out for their friends, family and neighbours.

“Any suspicious or concerning activity should be reported to the police, and we have received assurances from Police Scotland there will be extra vigilance around faith buildings and where there are large gatherings.

“Scotland must be united as one community of equals, and we have a duty to look out for one another. Only by working together can we tackle Islamophobia and all forms of racism and prejudice.”