A call has been made for Scottish cultural and business events to be organised in Muslim countries next year. It’s come from the Scottish-Islamic Foundation in the publication of their first annual report. The SIF want to take their Scottish events this year into the Muslim world in 2010. They say the idea would be similar to Scotland Week which happens annually in the US. SIF are this year organising a trade expo in Glasgow to facilitate investment between Scotland and the Muslim world entitled Etisal, and a four-month nationwide cultural festival entitled Salaam Scotland. The next step in building bridges they say, is to construct on the other side – set these up as Scottish events in the Muslim world itself. Commenting, Osama Saeed, chief executive of the SIF said: “Scotland has many strong cards to play on the global stage, but one of the things we don’t talk about enough are our excellent community relations. There are still issues to be tackled, but there is no better place to be Muslim in the Western world. We’re getting it right on getting the best from our minorities, while respecting peoples’ individuality. “Globally, this presents us with a responsibility to export what we’re doing, where so much tension exists between Muslims and others. Our voice in the global dialogue is necessary and important on issues such as human rights and democracy. “This year we’ll be building bridges through our activities in Scotland. The next logical move after this is to take Scotland to the heart of the Muslim world, both literally and figuratively. “There is rightly a focus on markets in the US and China at the moment. We could similarly benefit by putting some attention into the Middle East in particular, so we’ll be taking this forward with partners in due course.”
A previous post discussed plans by the SIF to sponsor an exposition later this year aimed at building trade ties between Scotland and the Muslim world.
The SIF is a relatively new organization that was officially launched in 2008 of this year and a U.K think-tank has reported on its ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. The SIF has appears to be enjoying good relations with the Scottish government and has received government funding on more than one occasion. The SIF National Conference held in November 2008 was scheduled to include global Muslim Brotherhood figures Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the Brotherhood founder as well as Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Scottish Deputy First Minister Sturgeon was also scheduled to attend. A U.K. media report observes that SIF chief Executive Osama Saeed enjoys close relations with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond for whom he used to work as a researcher and documents Saeed’s controversial background including calls for an Islamic Caliphate and equivocal stands on terrorism. Saeed is currently a candidate for the Scottish parliament on the ticket of the Scotttish Nationalist Party (SNP).