SNP hopeful under fire over funding of Muslim festivals
From The Scottish newspaper the Sunday Herald.
An SNP election candidate is facing questions after problems with two Muslim festivals he helped set up using £70,000 of public money. Non UK readers may wish to know that the Scottish National Party are not the BNP in Scotland but a party which wishes Scottish independence from the UK and thus Scotland will longer be under any influence from the hated English, and to achieve that end they go to some lengths to vie with Labour for the immigrant vote.
Osama Saeed, who hopes to become MP for Glasgow Central, used taxpayers’ cash to develop a “Scottish Islamic finance expo” called Etisal and a cultural event called Salaam Scotland.
Both events have been hit by substantial delays.
(This is) . . . the second time Etisal has been cancelled. Originally Etisal 2009, it was meant to have been held last October.
Salaam Scotland, due to start last month, has also been postponed. The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) says it will now begin in February or March, although no programme is available.
Both festivals are spin-offs of the SIF, a Muslim lobbying group Mr Saeed founded and runs as chief executive.
Labour questioned whether Mr Saeed had delivered anything tangible for his public funding, which was handed over in March 2008.
When contacted by the Sunday Herald, Des McNulty, Labour MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie, said the public had a right to know what was going on. “What is the public benefit from the £70,000 that has been spent? What’s it been spent on exactly? Just who got it? We need detailed answers,” he said.
The SIF has been dogged by claims of cronyism since its creation in 2008. Past directors include Mr Saeed’s wife, his brother and a cousin, while its current board includes another of Mr Saeed’s brothers and his cousin’s girlfriend.
The SIF secured more than £400,000 of public funding from the SNP Government within months of its launch.
Mr Saeed, 29, is a former aide to Alex Salmond. Mr Salmond personally backed a £200,000 grant to SIF in March 2008 for the creation of an “IslamFest”.
When Saeed failed to deliver it, the SIF was ordered to repay the money left. Last June, Saeed returned £128,584, but said £71,416 had been spent, including more than £41,000 on “salaries on fees”.
Ministers later told parliament the £71,416 was spent on the “development” of Etisal and Salaam Scotland, both of which seem to have drifted off course.
Last year the First Minister said Mr Saeed would make a “fantastic member of parliament”.
Posted on 01/31/2010 7:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax