The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) has hit back at criticism about the support the organisation has received from the Scottish Government.
Osama Saeed, the interim chief executive of SIF, is an SNP candidate for the next Westminster election and believes this has been at the root of press attacks on its funding arrangements.
The government insisted the £210,000 grant given to constitute the group in March and further aid of £190,000 under the Race, Religion and Refugee Integration Fund had been recommended by independent assessors under proper procedures.
Mr Saeed said accusations of favouritism were inaccurate given that other organisations working with Muslims also received grants from the fund, including some groups with strong Labour Party links.
The SIF had no permanent staff yet but strict appointment procedures would be followed, said Mr Saeed, pointing out at board level and among volunteers there was cross-party representation.
A statement from SIF cited public support from a range of individuals and groups, and added:
“There are a tiny handful of people who have been engaged in what others in the wider community are seeing as misinformed or jealous sniping. However, as has been demonstrated, we have the support and backing of imams and mosques around the country; the umbrella bodies of Muslim organisations in Scotland and the UK; Muslim students and many others.”
Among those quoted in support of SIF was Amar Shakoor of the Strathclyde Police Muslim Association, who said: “I would like to congratulate SIF and their team and wish them every success in the future to promote Islam and work with the Muslim community in an effort to foster better understanding of all faiths in Scotland.”