THIS IS A GUEST POST BY DHAIBHIDH C MHAC DHUIHDHLHEIGH OF THE LENINIST VANGUARD (DRUMNADROCHIT CHAPTER).
Greetings all. Our Brother, Osama Saeed has a truly inspiring response to the toxic attack dogs of the neo-con, Zionist, Imperialist conspiracy which has been unleashed against him.
I write this article in a personal capacity, as much of the criticism surrounding the Scottish-Islamic Foundation are to do with my political life, even though SIF has always maintained a strict non-party political line, and no one can demonstrate otherwise.
Reports recently about SIF have been headlined about me as an SNP candidate even though this has absolutely nothing to do with the SIF. Candidates in all parties hold down sensitive jobs in the public and charitable sectors and are not subjected to this unfair blurring of lines.
From day one SIF has been hounded by the Labour Party. The reasons for this are obvious. I am in with a great chance of being the next MP for Glasgow Central, and thereby sweeping the Sarwar family, great benefactors of Scottish Labour, out of office.
Mohammad Sarwar is not just a normal MP to Labour. He got the party £300,000 for the last Scottish election campaign. He continues to fund, directly and indirectly, a number of candidates and the national party itself. Labour will as a result make sure he is looked after.
In the initial phases, Sarwar’s ally Frank McAveety MSP was getting in about SIF. His register of interests shows he was given money for his last election campaign by Sarwar’s Muslim Friends of Labour organisation. Labour’s point man on this then seemed to suddenly switch. An unholy number of parliamentary questions have been tabled about SIF, in a scenario perhaps not quite ‘cash for questions’, but morally dubious nonetheless.
The pressure put on the Scottish government about SIF has been unparalleled for any similar small organisation. It’s come not just from Labour, but from rightwing elements, but often with the two feeding from each other. 55 others were funded in the same stream as SIF, including some working with Muslims, but I doubt readers can name another one or what they do for the money. Any organisation, when examined under a cynical microscope, can have fun poked at it. I’ve seen enough in the last few years in this sector to know that.
Audit Scotland investigated SIF’s funding and clearly and definitively concluded that correct processes and procedures were followed. £200,000 was awarded by the Scottish Government in 2008 to organise a festival of Muslim culture in order to bring communities together. The total budget needed was greater than this, but it proved difficult to raise it due to the economic crisis that had broken out. The plans were therefore streamlined and retimetabled. A lot of organisations have commented to me that they would have just blown the money on any old thing anyway. Instead, we were prudent, wanted to do the job properly, and asked for the £128,000 that wasn’t spent so far in developing the project to be reprofiled into this year.
Projects get delayed all the time – folk in the Scottish Parliament building of all places should know that. Just last week it was reported that government IT projects had lost in the region of a cool £26BILLION (where are the parliamentary questions? Where are the Freedom of Information requests?). SIF is nowhere near this territory though and didn’t ask for any new money. I think the green light to finish the festival would have been given had it not been for the hatred that would have poured forward if it had. SIF has instead had to be nimble and resourceful in reconfiguring the plans where others would have given up.
So if anyone is to blame for the delays to the bold things SIF wanted to do, Labour should look at themselves. It is nonsensical to create an environment where an organisation cannot get funding, and then criticise the consequences. How are SIF meant to deliver a Middle East trade expo and a cultural festival with no staff resource on it, and no way to pay for venues, publicity and the rest? No organisation in the country would be expected to do that.
Despite working under considerable strain, the young people involved in SIF have carried on as best they can, and are firmly an important part of the Scottish landscape. A cultural festival will go ahead. Since its launch a short 18 months ago, SIF has campaigned against forced marriage, distributed food amongst Glasgow’s needy, set up a PhD with Strathclyde University, exposed the man that threatened to blow up Glasgow Central Mosque, condemned vandalism by young Muslims against a synagogue in Edinburgh, and seen its young people even win awards for their contribution in the mainstream of society. The organisation brought together the country, including all political parties, with the Scotland United initiative when the far-right SDL was formed – 3,000 people from all walks joined it including trade unions, churches and the EHRC.
The latter, with Nazis astonishingly on Scottish streets against Muslims, underlined the need for bridge building activities and action against Islamophobia that SIF brought forward. It’s not ever reported, but Labour recognised this themselves when they agreed in principle to fund the Islamic festival before leaving office in 2007. It’s just a shame political opportunism later took over.
Gosh, wow, I mean wow, inspiring, like. Brother Osama is quite right to point out that his organization should not be politicized for any purpose (other than promoting him, the SNP PPC for Glasgow Central). I cannot fail to disagree more with his germane observation that it had spent a mere £72,000 of the allocated £400,000 with no discernible result, comparing to many billions lost on Government IT schemes.
I was making just such an argument when the Police attempted to book me for speeding. Why were they not out catching real criminals?
Brother Osama lists many inspiring achievements of the SIF, such as blogging about a washed-out loonie, and not asking for more state money when any fule nose it would have been forthcoming. I felt the shame of the SIF when it, instead, felt the leading to ask for Ramadan donations.