A Yes vote would make it harder to tackle extremism

The Scottish National Party has failed miserably to engage in preventing Islamist extremism.

 The Scottish National Party has failed miserably to engage in preventing Islamist extremism

We are facing an international and unprecedented threat from extremist Islamist groups and individuals. This threat is acutely felt in the UK since we have experienced the terror attacks of 7/7, have foiled over 30 major terrorist plots since 7/7 and have over 500 fighters – from both England and Scotland – that have joined ISIS.

With this in mind, it is important to note that the Scottish National Party (SNP) has failed miserably to engage in preventing the Islamist extremism agenda. In fact, Alex Salmond has even appeased Islamist extremists and spent tax payer’s money to fund them.

Quilliam highlighted this when we exposed the fact that the SNP endorsed an Islamist candidate, Osama Saeed, in 2009 as their Parliamentary Candidate for Glasgow Central. Had he been elected, the former spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which is a front-group for the Muslim Brotherhood – the world’s largest Islamist movement – would have become the UK’s first ever openly Islamist MP.

Furthermore, Saeed’s had formerly worked for Alex Salmond and then went on to establish the Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), which received over £400,000 from the Scottish government. Since its creation, the SIF has acted to provide a platform for a wide range of high-profile Islamists while also promoting religious separatism and a range of Muslim Brotherhood-style policies.

Examples of Saeed’s politics include:

  • Support for the homophobic, anti-Semitic hate preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
  • Religious separatism and attacks on moderate Muslim scholars.
  • Support for the idea of a Caliphate – particularly dangerous given the current threat that the UK is facing with the so called Islamic State (IS) and the foreign Jihadis – some of them who are from Scotland.
  • Urging Muslim ‘defiance’ of police counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Giving a platform to extremists.
  • An ambiguous stance on Sharia punishments.

Furthermore, the Scottish Islamic Foundation had claimed a full third of ’equality’ funding in Scotland, from 2007 till 2010.

Fast forward to 2014 and we find that the funding and empowering of Muslim Brotherhood Islamists as well as their empowerment over recent decades has left our society primed for recruiters to cherry-pick people to fight for Jihadi organisations around the world.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all alluded to the fact that this is the biggest threat that we face to our national security. Most Western leaders have come to the same conclusion – and yet we have stony silence from Alex Salmond.

Perhaps he doesn’t believe that Islamist extremism poses a threat. Or maybe he feels another strategy is appropriate? Perhaps he is so fixated in taking Scotland out of the United Kingdom that he just doesn’t care about anything else?

Either way, the current growth in the Islamist ideology, and the appeasement they are getting from the SNP, is quickly leading to more moderate Muslims being squeezed out. This can only lead to further disenfranchisement and more recruits to the Islamist cause; as well as feeding into the symbiotic relationship that this ideology has with the far-right.

In order to prevent the dire implications of this happening, we must promote a liberal and secular society that we all believe in as well as challenge Islamist and far-right narratives. Scotland currently has the ability to implement its own strategies but still has the benefit of guidance and direction from experts in Westminster and Whitehall.

Without this, we run the danger of the SNP going completely rogue on this issue, and it clearly doesn’t know how to combat the growth of these ideas nor does it seem to have the desire or the stomach for the struggle.

Hence, a ‘yes’ vote could potentially make the UK a lot less safe and undermine counter-extremist efforts. This could also explain why some security experts believe that even ISIS are in favour of ‘yes vote. For these, as well as many other reasons, Scots, both Muslim and non-Muslim, must vote ‘no’.

Haras Rafiq is an outreach officer at Quilliam

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