BY ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS
The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), Scotland’s primary Islamist pressure group, was forced this week to return £128,000 of public money.
The SIF is headed by Osama Saeed, who I have written about before, and whose Islamist outlook has been extensively covered by both Harry’s Place and the Centre for Social Cohesion. Last year, the SIF was awarded a staggering £400,000 by the Scottish National Party (SNP), most likely in the hope that Saeed’s skills in the world of identity politics would win them the favour of Scotland’s Muslim voters. For this reason, Saeed is also an SNP candidate.
This huge financial award from the SNP to an organisation run by an SNP candidate has led many to accuse the head of the party, Alex Salmond, of cronyism. It is particularly interesting that this accusation has come from other Scottish Muslim groups, including the Muslim Sufi community whose request for £30,000 to fund a Sufi festival in Glasgow was rebuffed.
The £128,000 that has, according to reports, “had to be returned because of irregularities surrounding what the money has been spent on”, was to go towards an SIF event called Islam Fest, which has never taken place. This event was modelled on England’s Islam Expo, a widely discredited event which was boycotted last year by all government ministers due to the extreme nature of its organisers, and in particular its links to Hamas.
The SIF has undoubtedly managed to outmuscle other more representative and non-Islamist Muslim groups and gain the favour of a party that is desperate for the fabled ‘Muslim vote’. The details of the SIF’s financial irregularities are not yet clear, although with any luck it could lead to a reassessment by the SNP of their relationship with Osama Saeed and the SIF.
Frank McAveety, Labour MSP for Glasgow Shettleston had this to say:
This is an extraordinary development and one which is personally embarrassing for the First Minister.
There are too many unanswered questions about why an organisation no-one had ever heard of received lavish funding at the expense of long-standing and respected Muslim organisations in Scotland.
When the award was made, it raised eyebrows. This front-group was set up with the sole purpose of receiving taxpayer’s money from the SNP.
Now the full extent of the links between the SNP and this organisation are exposed.
People are suspicious that the SNP have tried to fund an election candidate with public money.
I believe that the proper rules were not followed when this money was awarded and that the Scottish Parliament should investigate the irregularities and determine why the SNP tried to do political favours for its preferred candidates.
I have today written to the Chair of the Local Government and Communities Committee to ask him and his colleagues to investigate the irregularities in awarding this money.
I have also written to Alex Neil, the SNP Communities Minister, asking him to clarify matters urgently.
[Hat Tip: Hannah Stuart]