U.K. media has reported that the Scottish First Minister has been accused of cronyism by giving taxpayer money to the Scottish Islamic Foundation, a Muslim Brotherhood linked group headed by a prospective electoral candidate from his own party. According to the report:
FIRST Minister Alex Salmond was last night accused of ‘cronyism’ for giving more than £200,000 of taxpayers’ money to a group headed by a prospective SNP candidate in the next Westminster election. Questions were asked as to why the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) was given funding while a similar bid by an ex-Labour councillor was thwarted by red tape. The SIF chief executive is Osama Saeed, a former researcher for Mr Salmond – who praised the group at its official launch last month. Two days later, Mr Saeed was canvassing at a local community festival in Glasgow, wearing an SNP rosette and handing out party stickers. Last night, opposition parties accused the First Minister of placing Nationalist ‘friends’ in key public roles and said Mr Saeed was using public money to boost his own profile. But Scottish Executive officials claim the SIF has cross-party support and that funding is provided for other Muslim groups. Mr Saeed hopes to become Nationalist MP for Glasgow Central at the next general election. The SIF received £16,000 for computer, office and training costs and a further £200,000 towards IslamFest – a cultural and trade event – from the Executive’s Race, Religion and Refugee Integration Fund in March. Last night, Glasgow Shettleston Labour MSP Frank McAveety said: ‘Mr Saeed is a key activist for the SNP and should know where and when it’s appropriate to canvass the public. ‘It’s unacceptable that, two days after being given thousands of pounds from the Scottish Executive, Mr Saeed is out campaigning and handing out SNP material at an ethnically diverse community festival. ‘The cronyism at the heart of this Government is endemic, with SNP friends being given key roles in key areas of Glasgow ahead of the next Westminster election.’ At least two other SIF members have strong links with the SNP. Public affairs group chairman Humza Yousaf is convener of Young Asian Scots for Independence and parliamentary press officer to Nationalist MSP Bashir Ahmad. Media marketing chairman Noman Tahir is also an active member of the party. Mr Saeed is a former spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, described in the UK Parliament as the British version of the Muslim Brotherhood – a banned Egyptian group which believes in Jihad, or holy war. Mr Saeed has said he was not aware of the links between the two. Responding to the cronyism claims, Esther Sassaman, Mr Saeed’s campaign manager in Glasgow Central, said: ‘McAveety’s claims of cronyism are wide of the mark and more applicable to the way his party operated when in government.’
A previous post has discussed the creation of the SIF and its ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood as well Mr. Saeed’s seeming support for Scottish independence which would undoubtedly increase the importance of his organization. Since its inception, the SIF appears to have been taking on the usual subjects addressed by other Muslim Brotherhood organizations- “Islamaphobia”, government terrorism policies, and the role of Sharia (Islamic law).
(Source: “Salmond accused of £200,000 ‘cronyism'” Mail on Sunday (London) July 13, 2008 Sunday HI2