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New Muslim Scottish leader sides with Palestinians, has ties with terror groups

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By World Israel News.com

Humza Yousaf was confirmed as first minister of Scotland on Tuesday, becoming the first person of color to head the Scottish government and the first Muslim national leader in any Western democracy.

The milestone comes five months after the UK got its first Hindu leader in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Britain’s capital city is headed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants.

“There’s an expectation now, or a familiarity with diversity in British politics, that we don’t see in other European countries,” said Sunder Katwala of British Future, a think-tank that studies identity and race.

Lawmakers in the Edinburgh-based Scottish parliament voted on Tuesday to confirm 37-year-old Yousaf as first minister, a day after he was elected leader of the governing Scottish National Party. Scotland, a country of 5.5 million people, is part of the United Kingdom, but has a semi-autonomous government with broad power in areas including health and education.

In an acceptance speech on Monday, Yousaf said he was “forever thankful that my grandparents made the trip from the Punjab to Scotland over 60 years ago.”

“As immigrants to this country, who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next first minister of Scotland,” he said. “From the Punjab to our parliament, this is a journey over generations that reminds us that we should celebrate migrants who contribute so much to our country.”

Yousaf was born in Glasgow in 1985. His father’s family came from Pakistan, his mother’s from East Africa, part of an exodus of South Asian families who faced post-independence discrimination. One grandfather worked in a Singer sewing machine factory, while a grandmother was a Glasgow bus conductor.

At primary school, Yousaf later recalled, “there was only me and one other brown face.” He attended a private high school, then studied politics at the University of Glasgow — after breaking it to his parents, who had hoped he’d become a lawyer.

Yousaf joined the pro-independence, left-wing Scottish National Party in 2005, inspired partly by its then-leader Alex Salmond’s opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which the UK under Prime Minister Tony Blair had joined. Yousaf said he felt independence from the UK was the only way to ensure Scotland would not become embroiled in another illegal war.

Yousaf is also on record as a supporter of the Palestinians. His wife’s family lives in Gaza, and during the May 2021 conflict, for example, he spoke out against Israel.

He has accused Israel of “killing innocent civilians” and “starvation of population of Gaza and continuing human-rights abuses.”

In 2008, he met with Hamas leader Mohammad Sawalha, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Obaida, at an event in the UK, The Jewish Chronicle reported earlier this month.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Sawalha has spread the “radical Islamic doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Muslim community in Britain,” participated in flotillas to Gaza, and aided in the illicit transfer of funds from the U.S. to Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria.

When The JC asked Yousaf if he was aware of Salwaha’s background and terror-supporting activities, the lawmaker did not directly answer the question. Instead, he said that he has a “strong track record of standing up against every form of hatred, including antisemitism.”

Yousaf and Sawalha both attended the 2008 Islam Expo in London, an event funded by the Qatari government. Other attendees included a Pakistani businessman who publicly praised the Taliban and a former UK parliamentarian who said that the “Jewish lobby” controls the U.S. and forces the country to do the bidding of Israel, the JC reported.

According to Middle East Forum, “European and Islamic governments have denounced Islamic Relief because of the anti-Semitism of its officials and its long history of close ties to Hamas and other designated terrorist groups. In 2020, the State Department warned about the ‘blatant and horrifying anti-Semitism and glorification of violence exhibited at the most senior levels of Islamic Relief Worldwide.’”

Elected to the Scottish parliament in 2011, he has served in several government roles, most recently health.

 

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