Your View

Sohaib Saeed is confused

This is a guest post Khalid ibn Al-Waleed

Sohaib Saeed, head of the ‘Dialogue and Education’ division of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, is confused.

In March his organisation, increasingly under-fire for its close links to the Muslim Brotherhood, in a stroke of public-relations genius, publicly offered to “guard” Scottish synagogues after one in Edinburgh was attacked by two young men, apparently Muslims.

The SIF’s offer was however firmly rebuffed by a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, the private organisation that protects Britain’s Jews, which said that it was treating the SIF’s offer with “extreme caution”, adding that the SIF was “by no means shy when it comes to propaganda and rhetoric against Israel and its supporters.”

This response has sent Saeed into a belated tailspin of self-righteous indignation. On his new blog, Saeed wrote yesterday that by rebuffing the SIF, the CST “flagrantly conflate opposition to Israel with enmity towards Jews”, asking “Is it not perfectly possible to be staunchly against Israel but show kindness to your Jewish neighbours?” adding that “If the SIF were known to criticise Israel, surely this friendly gesture should be taken as proof that they are not among the anti-Semites?”

Unfortunately for Saeed, the CST seems to have been right to be sceptical of the SIF’s offer. During the last two years, the SIF has repeatedly promoted anti-Semitic Islamists who are seemingly incapable of making even elementary distinctions between Jews and Zionists – and who have depicted Jews worldwide as being the enemy of all Muslims.

In April 2008, the SIF arranged for Kemal Helbawy to travel to Scotland give a weekend residential course for young Scottish Muslims. Kemal Helbawy, a Muslim Brotherhood grandee who is one of the founders of the Muslim Association of Britain, has over the years made a series of anti-Semitic statements.

In 1992, Helbawy gave a speech at Oklahoma City in which he told the Muslim audience that the war between the “satanic” Jews and Muslims (as represented by Hamas) was “an absolute clash of civilisations”:

“Do not take Jews and Christians as allies. For they are allies to each other. Oh Brothers, the Palestinian cause is not of conflict of borders and land only. It is not even a conflict of human ideology and [it is]not over peace. Rather, it is an absolute clash of civilizations, between truth and falsehood. Between two conducts – one satanic, headed by Jews and their co-conspirators – and the other is religious, carried by Hamas, and the Islamic movement in particular, and the Islamic people in general who are behind it.

Since then Helbawy seems to have only got crazier. Earlier this year, he told BBC Arabic television, that Israeli children should be killed as they were “future soldiers”, as well as spreading other myths about Israelis, adding for good measure that: 

“A child born in Israel is raised on the belief that the Arabs are like contemptible sheep. In elementary school they pose the following math problem – ‘In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?’ This is taught in the Israeli curriculum.”

Not much distinction between Jews and Zionists there as far I can see. Presumably Helbawy thinks that Israeli children should be killed because they are innately Zionist.

Osama Saeed, the head of the SIF, has also promoted Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama Saeed has called him an “eminent scholar” and “a man who has worked hard to reconcile Islam with modern democracy”, and written that Ken Livingstone’s controversial endorsement of Qaradawi “will be proved on the money in the fullness of time”. Here is Qaradawi speaking earlier this year:

“Thrghout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” […]

To conclude my speech, I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you.” 

Again, not a mention of Zionists there – only “the Jews”. Perhaps Qaradawi was just being careless. If so, then Qaradawi was also being careless in his ‘Fatwa on Palestine’ which in which he writes that “the conquerors [of Palestine] are those with the greatest enmity toward the believers, and they are supported by the strongest state on earth – the USA, and by the world Jewish community”, adding that “every Jew in the world thinks himself a soldier, and supports Israel as much as he can” and warning Muslims not to make friends with “Jews, in general, and Israelis, in particular”.

Sohaib Saeed has himself also promoted Qaradawi as a “moderate” spiritual guide for British Muslims, writing a memorable article entitled ‘If Qaradawi’s an extremist, who’s left?’ in which he wrote that: 

“when most Muslims look to Mr Qaradawi, they see a shining example of moderation: in its Islamic meaning. To us, being a moderate Muslim means to practise the religion faithfully, according to its letter and its spirit.”

Until busted by Harry’s Place, Sohaib also was an admin on the “Sheikh Qaradawi Appreciation Society” on facebook.

Saeed wrote on his blog yesterday of the importance of understanding “the key fact of the distinction between Judaism and Zionism”:

“Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews. And even if particular Jews can be defined as Zionists, not all Zionism is the same, and it certainly doesn’t justify any sort of violence against them.”

Why then have Sohaib Saeed, his brother and the Scottish Islamic Foundation in general repeatedly promoted and given platforms to Islamist individuals who not only seem unable to distinguish between Jews and Zionists but who have also denounced Jews in such terms as to make anti-Semitic violence almost inevitable.

The Scottish Islamic Foundation, by promoting anti-Semitic clerics, appears to have helped create an atmosphere in which attacks on synagogues can take place. The SIF has then sought to use such attacks to gain PR brownie points by portraying themselves as defending Scotland’s Jewish community. This is clearly disingenuous. If the SIF’s members are serious about preventing anti-Semitic attacks on Scottish Jews then they should immediately stop promoting anti-Semitic bigots as role models for Scottish Muslims.

Share this article.