SNP plays dangerous with hardline Islam allies
19 Sept - 2 Oct 2008
How much longer will Alex Salmond be able to convince the Scottish press and people that he's not a grubby nationalist who fans sectarian hatreds, but a modern politician leading Scotland to a tolerant future? A scandal is looming north of the border that threatens to tarnish the oily one's gleaming image perhaps irrevocably.
Last month the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations condemned Salmond's government for giving £400,000 to the Scottish Islamic Foundation. The foundation is headed by one Osama Saeed, who just happens to be the Scottish National Party's parliamentary candidate in Glasgow Central. As Stephen Maxwell, the council's director, said, it was "unusual, to say the least" that public money was handed over to a body which had neither been incorporated as a company nor registered as a charity at the time the grant was given.
As Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the Scottish parliament push for an inquiry, they would do well to listen to the Scottish Muslim groups which Salmond won't fund. They say the Scottish Islamic Foundation does not represent their or any other tolerant version of Islam.
Saeed's membership of the SNP is not his only interesting connection. His Islamic Foundation is in fact a front organisation for the Muslim Brotherhood which wants to create a global Caliphate (motto: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.") Saeed is an enthusiastic supporter and was furious when Nicky Campbell of BBC Radio 5 accurately reported that Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, had ruled that wife beating and female circumcision were fine, and that gays, Israelis and apostates deserved death. "This is truly unacceptable from the BBC," Saeed declared.
The Brotherhood's main aim in Scotland is to establish Muslim faith schools, controlled by Saeed's allies, naturally. At the launch of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, Saeed praised Muslim schools in England where children are taught the Koran, boys and girls are segregated and the latter wear the hijab. Salmond stood beside him and pledged state funding.
Amanullah de Sondy, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Glasgow University, believes faith schools "will further reinforce isolationist approaches to education and hamper attempts at building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims", and says: "I have nothing against the Scottish Islamic Foundation... but they are not representative of the Muslim community." But Salmond didn't listen. He seems to want to make the Scottish Islamic Foundation / Muslim Brotherhood the authentic voice of Scottish Islam, in the hope that it will return the favour by helping the SNP take Muslim votes from Labour.
The Kelvinside numpties who control BBC Scotland are equally impressed and have also been flirting with radical Islamic chic.
About the only Muslim voices they allow listeners to hear are those of Saeed and Aamer Anwar, a solicitor and former Socialist Workers' Party activist who was nearly done for contempt of court after he claimed that a wannabe-terrorist, convicted of possessing CDs and videos of guerrilla tactics and bomb-making, was just "doing what millions of young people do every day -- looking for answers on the internet".
So large has the Muslim Brotherhood influence grown in Scottish politics and broadcasting that the high commissioner for Pakistan, Dr Maleha Lodhi, used a speech at Glasgow University last year to urge Scottish Muslims to speak up for themselves and not allow the men with the loudest voices to be seen as their sole representatives.
Some hope. As Salmond dreams of becoming the first ruler of an independent Scotland in three centuries, the bonds between nationalism and Islamism are growing tighter. He is talking of putting representatives of the Scottish Islamic Foundation on to commissions investigating the future of Trident and sending them as ambassadors to the Middle East. As for those Scots, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who don't believe in sexual segregation and the theology of al-Qaradawi, Salmond is riding so high in the polls he thinks he can tell them to get stuffed.