Man arrested for 'offensive' Facebook posts about Syrian refugees arriving on Scottish island of Bute

Police said the 40-year-old had been arrested under the Communications Act

A man has been arrested over a series of “offensive” Facebook posts about refugees arriving on a Scottish island.

Police Scotland said the suspect, from the Inverclyde area, was arrested following reports of a “series of alleged offensive posts” about Syrian families living on the Isle of Bute.

“A 40-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged offences under the Communications Act,” a spokesperson added. “A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

She said legal restrictions prevented her from confirming what was written in the posts.

Migrants arrive in UK

Inspector Ewan Wilson, from Dunoon police office, told the Guardian that the arrest demonstrated that such abuse will not be tolerated as Scotland continues to welcome hundreds of refugees.

“I hope that the arrest of this individual sends a clear message that Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of activity which could incite hatred and provoke offensive comments on social media,” he said.

Around a dozen Syrian families moved to the Isle of Bute late last year as part of the Government’s scheme to resettle asylum seekers from camps in the Middle East.

Local people have reported heart-warming tales of generosity and support but some criticised the use of Bute, which has few jobs and a shrinking population, as a destination.

Syrian refugee families arrive at their new homes on the Isle of Bute on December 4, 2015 in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland.

The Scottish government had pledged to accept 40 per cent of the 1,000 or so Syrians brought to the UK by the end of last year. 

Many of those arriving in Bute were housed in its main town of Rothesay, which used to be the summer destination for Glasgow’s working-class holidaymakers. 

The first families arrived in November, shortly after the terrorist attacks carried out by Isis in Paris.

Mhairi Black, a Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, and Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s international development minister, were among those raising concern about a spike in Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic abuse online.

But Mr Yousaf has since praised the “outstanding response” of Scotland’s local authorities, volunteers and residents to the new arrivals, saying he had been “bowled over” by the welcome extended to refugees.

“I am deeply proud of the Scottish people who have extended the warmest possible hand of friendship to our newest neighbours,” he said.

“I’ve heard heartwarming tales – people walking up to refugees in the street and giving them hugs of welcome, offers of friendship, support and practical help, from arranging special community film screenings for refugees to giving them welcome gifts of food hampers, warm clothes and hot water bottles.

“There is much more work to be done over the next few weeks and months to support the refugees as they work to pick up the threads of their lives afresh in Scotland.

“But I am confident that our country, and in particular our people, are more than equal to this challenge.”