The Center for Social Cohesion reported in August that the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) was forced to return £128,000 of public money in connection with an event that was never held. According to the CSC report:
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.
In addition, the Harry’s Place blog reported last week that the SIF had sent a letter to its Facebook supporters soliciting donations which read:
This Ramadan, I’d like to ask you to consider supporting the SIF financially. We were founded to build bridges between Muslims and others, something I’m sure you’ll agree is vitally important with the rise of the far-right and Islamophobic attacks. We have achieved a lot in the year since our launch in June 2008 … We need your help to maintain our fulltime status and achieve the things that need to be done. In the current economic climate, we face a challenge as a young organisation to remain financially stable.
No mention was made of the financial difficulties above. A previous post discussed various plans discussed plans by the SIF to sponsor an exposition later this year aimed at building trade ties between Scotland and the Muslim world, but it is not known if this was the same event in question.
The SIF is a relatively new organization that was officially launched in 2008 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).