The Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief has been badly damaged by a fire which police say was started deliberately. Owners of the Islamic Relief store said the incident followed threatening phone calls made during its Gaza emergency appeal in January. Politicians and leading Islamic figures condemned the attack as “despicable” and said it was lucky no-one was injured as there are flats above. Around £80,000 worth of damage were caused in the suspected racist attack.
Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief’s humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia”. Two men, aged 26 and 34, have now appeared in court charged in connection with the fire.
The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) has hit back at criticism about the support the organisation has received from the Scottish Government, calling it “misinformed or jealous sniping”. 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.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=7DE52DD66FF4235074EEC4B5&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News
Strathclyde Police are facing accusations that it operates a covert intelligence monitoring unit which is infringing the rights of Muslims, after the force launched an investigation into claims that a group of Asians on a clay pigeon shoot had behaved “like terrorists”. Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, has written to Strathclyde’s chief constable, Stephen House, expressing concern at the way Special Branch officers are questioning Asians about their lifestyles, religious and political beliefs and internet activities. He added that the continued use of the tactics would lead to “further marginalisation of Muslims”, and is already leading some to think twice about practising their beliefs for fear that police will disrupt their lives. His comments came as one solicitor claimed police have also been secretly “recruiting” Muslims to provide information about their community in return for payments. The 10-strong shooting party were questioned informally at their homes and businesses by two policemen a year after their November 2006 trip to Kypeside Farm, an activity centre near Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire. The officers, believed to be from Special Branch, were reacting to a tip-off from a member of the public who claimed the group had been overheard discussing “shooting AK-47 rifles in Pakistan”.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=9CC40E37CC587FE4EF24B164&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News