The Scottish Police Muslim Association (SPMA), in line with Police Scotland's annual policing plan 2022/23, which aims to further enhance their engagement with the community, hosted an annual Iftaar at Hamilton Islamic Centre on the evening of Friday 24th March, which the SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie MSP, attended.

Other guests included the Assistant Chief Constable, the Chief Inspector (Graeme McLaughlin) - who is the Area Commander of Hamilton and Larkhall - and local community police officers covering Hamilton.

During the event, the Imam at Hamilton Islamic Centre explained the significance of the 9th month in the Islamic lunar Calendar, which is called 'Ramadhan,' and began on Thursday 23rd March.

During this period, Muslims all around the globe will fast between sunrise and sunset throughout a period of 29 or 30 days.

During Ramadhan the Mosque is filled with worshippers attending the five daily prayers based on the movement of the sun. Muslims gather in the mosque at night-time to perform a special type of congregational prayer, which is called Taraweeh. This is not obligatory but highly recommended.

Most Muslims will come to the Mosque to open their fast just after sunset, and it this mealtime that is known as the Iftaar. The meal eaten before sunrise is known as Suhur.

The attending Assistant Chief Constable from Police Scotland headquarters at Tulliallan spoke about the 'Policing Together' initiative which recognises officers and staff come from different backgrounds and have different religions, beliefs, and experiences and how our shared values of integrity, fairness, respect, and a commitment to upholding human rights.

Christina McKelvie MSP also commented:

“It was a privilege to attend Hamilton Islamic Centre’s annual Iftaar, which was organised with the SPMA. I have the utmost respect for Muslims, Islam, and all religions and religious people, at all times, but especially during the period of Ramadan where resilience truly is the status quo.

“It was brilliant to engage with constituents, to spend time with a prominent faith community, and I was humbled and touched by my interactions between police officers and members of the community which attended.

“I was also privileged to be able to make a short speech. I spoke of my commitment to maintaining my constituency’s progressive, diverse and respectful aura, and I was pleased to pay tribute to the work of the SPMA.

“In my constituency, we have more that unites us than divides us. Even though there are many challenges and stresses amongst my constituents, there is no doubt that we come together with mutual admiration and respect, and this is something I am proud to be a part of.

“This is why I am also proud of the new Hate Crime Strategy which was published last week by the Scottish government. The strategy sets out how Scotland can become a more cohesive society where everyone feels they belong. I am proud of the Scottish Government for introducing this body of work which will tackle any barriers to maintaining a progressive, and equal 21st century nation. 

“Finally, it was a real treat to attend an event with such significance within the Muslim community. The welcome, warmth and hospitality I experienced was a fundamentally inspiring experience, and I look forward to continuing - and fostering - this important relationship.”