“The idea that white politicians should be the ones to ‘save’ Muslim women from oppression is itself racist. It also will make it more difficult for Muslim women who want to stand up for women’s rights within their own communities, if all Muslims feel they are subject to racist attack from outside. What women wear is not and should never be a matter for politicians to decide. It should be for women themselves to decide.”
The right-wing blogosphere has been cock-a-hoop at news that the Scottish-Islamic Foundation “have been forced to repay” £128,000 to the Scottish Government for “an event that never took place”.
The news was covered by the Daily Mail and Express, peddled by Centre for Social Cohesion’s Douglas “Neoconservatism: why we need it” Murray and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, and repeated by Harry’s Place.
The story is that SIF last year received £200,000 to organise IslamFest, a large event planned for this summer 2009 aimed at the public on Muslim culture, but which also had a Middle East trade expo as part of it. The original plans were to cost over £1m to hold, but there were difficulties in obtaining the remaining funding due to the economic crisis.
As a result, the plans were scaled back and pushed back. It has been split into two elements – Salaam Scotland and Etisal. The former is a four month festival of events taking place around Scotland from December this year, while the latter is the trade expo which will also take place this year.
The work is important given the level of Islamophobia in Scotland and the wider UK, and the project also has the potential to attract investment and jobs into Scotland – something you would have thought would be supported given the economic climate. The Scottish Government are still considering the new timetable.
Anyone with any knowledge of the voluntary sector knows that if a grant is given in a financial year, 08/09 in this case, and is underspent, the remainder is returned. This is not unusual. Perhaps what is unusual is SIF’s scrupulous approach to the money. SIF CEO Osama Saeed told the Express:
“Many in our position would simply have cobbled something together and spent the money. This would not have been good enough for the high standards we set ourselves”.
The full picture has not been reported anywhere. The event that “did not take place” claim is not the full story, and SIF’s critics know this.
If this was just a case of misrepresentation, that would be one thing. But SIF’s critics have had to add some spice to the story by claiming financial “irregularities”. The word has been repeated ad nauseam in quotation marks, but no one has been able to back it up.
Islamophobia Watch was delighted to take up our invitation to attend the launch of the Scottish Islamic Foundation in Edinburgh on Thursday 26th June.
We were in auspicious company; representatives from all 4 of Scotland’s major political parties spoke from the platform, including Alex Salmond, the First Minister.
The event had been the subject of much angst from the Islamophobes, Melanie Philips leading the charge.
Attempts by Tory blog ConservativeHome to smear the SNP Scottish Government backfired spectacularly with the appearance of the Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie at the event and her fulsome praise of the Scottish Islamic Foundation.
The audience also included representatives from Lothian and Borders Police and the Jewish community, further undermining Islamophobic attempts to portray SIF, and Osama Saeed in particular, as secret Islamic fundamentalists, intent on creating a “Caledonian Caliphate”.
From the perspective of this member of the Islamophobia Watch collective, the real story of the launch of SIF is the prominence of social justice and opposition to imperialism in its objectives.
Osama Saeed has repeatedly advocated the need for young, disaffected, Scottish Muslims to be given space to engage in political discourse.
The launch of the Scottish Islamic Foundation is exactly the space that is needed to develop that discourse.
Regular readers of Islamophobia Watch will need no introduction to Frontpage Magazine. For years now we have covered the ravings of Robert Spencer and his cronies as they take the language of hate and give it an air of respectability so that loons like Melanie Phillips aren’t forced to rely on BNP propaganda for their diatribes.
Today, though, our attention has been drawn to an article that is little more than a 21st century version of the scientific racism used to justify some of history’s most appalling acts of genocide and colonialism. At first we thought it was a spoof designed to discredit Spencer and his website but, no, it does appear to be genuine.
The Daily Star has a perfect storm of scare stories: sex offenders and Muslims.
In the latest instalment of The State Goes Soft On Muslims stories from the Richard Desmond owned rags, now it is the UK’s jails which are capitulating to Muslims.
Except they are not.
A Muslim has written a letter to the prisoners’ paper Inside Time but that doesn’t stop Shadow Justice Minister Nick Herbert providing the Daily Star with an outraged quote.
It is the first time in UK legal history that a solicitor has faced a contempt of court allegation in respect of remarks made outside of court.
“The three basic elements of Islamophobia mentioned above are all present in the hysteria about what Muslim women wear: resentment (why should you get to hide your face?); fear and loathing (what have you got to hide?); and patronising ‘concern’ (that veil hides bruises and tears, sister, so kindly allow whitey to liberate you).”
Richard also deals comprehensively with the appalling reality of domestic abuse in the UK, 89% of which is directed at the female spouse.
The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, is peddling more dangerous nonsense in the Sunday Telegraph today.
The Bishop’s latest intervention moves into territory that chimes perfectly with the BNP’s narrative of ‘no-go’ areas for non-Muslims and the far right racists website is using the story to full effect.
The Sunday Telegraph print edition carries another Muslim scare story on the same page, quoting residents of Oxford worrying about the possibilities of “population shift”, or a “Muslim ghetto” in racist newspaper speak, if a mosque is allowed to broadcast a call to prayer.