On the 28th March the SNP’s Humza Yousaf was voted First Minister of Scotland by the Scottish Parliament. This little known 37 year old MSP replaced the omnipresent Nicola Sturgeon, who resigned due to the controversy over the (illegal and immoral) Gender Bill. Notably he is a practicing Muslim, with worrying links to dangerous Islamists and questionable past behavior. This post looks at why this presents a danger.

Humza Yousaf, new First Minister and SNP leader

Humza Yousaf from the outside is every inch the liberal, socially progressive, typical SNP politician. He supported trans activists’ Scottish Gender Bill. He supported the Hate Crime Act criminalizing ‘stirring up [racial or sexual] hatred’. He stated he ‘doesn’t use [his] faith as the basis of legislation.’ But this outward image he presents conceals worrying behaviour, associations and the difficult position the fundamentals of Islam, his professed religion, put him in. Let’s see some examples. 

Humza used to run the Scottish Islamic Foundation, set up in 2008 and dissolved in 2013, with his cousin Osama Saeed. This same SIF was designated an entry level Islamist group in 2010 by the Quilliam Foundation which warned many members supported ‘creating a single ‘Islamic State’ [with] shariah as state law.’ This label seems to have been borne out, as early on Humza brought Islamic extremists to meet senior Scottish politicians.One of them, Mohammed Sawalha, was a Hamas terrorist commander. Yousaf then in 2013, in his new position as SNP Minister for External Affairs, despite claiming his Islam does not affect his policymaking, announced a £398,00 grant to Islamic Relief. This organization is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and has an appalling history of antisemitism. His association with his cousin Saeed, who in 2006 praised Al Qaeda’s Anwar Al Awlaki as ‘preach[ing] nothing but peace” is also highly questionable. Just in 2020 he famously tweeted his ‘dreadful sadness’ at the death of a high profile gangland drug-dealer, which this channel suspects was simply due to his being a member of the same religion. Most suspiciously, in 2014 he missed the vote on gay marriage in Scotland, perhaps fearing his fundamentalist Muslim voters in Glasgow would not approve, or perhaps he didn’t even support it, despite his publicly affirmed LGBT credentials, and only grudgingly came round after. 

More than anything there is an intractable problem, which Humza cannot make go away. It is impossible to reconcile liberalism and the fundamentals of Islam; the Quran simply does not permit it. This makes his position as a guardian of gay and women’s rights extremely weak and vulnerable to backsliding because Muslim fundamentalists can point to clear, unambiguous verses in the Quran and question why he is not following them. Indeed many have done so already. Take Humza’s declaration that he supports equal rights for women. Verse 4:34 in the Quran states “Men are the protectors of women because of the greater preference that God has given to some of them… admonish women who disobey (God’s laws), do not sleep with them, and beat them.” Also verse 2:228, after decreeing that divorced women must wait 3 menstrual cycles before remarrying, states “Women have benefits as well as responsibilities. Men have a status above women.” These 2 verses show Islam states women are not equal to men. Humza, if he truly believes in Islam, clearly cannot convincingly claim to support feminism. Nor can he convincingly claim to support gay rights since the Quran unequivocally condemns homosexuality in verse 7:81 which sees a prophet, Lot, scolding his people for their wickedness “You lust after men instead of women. You are certainly transgressors.” This is the essential problem of the Muslim moderate, he is torn between his regressive ideology and his progressive ideals, and a cognitive dissonance results from his trying to hold irreconcilable beliefs. 

Why does this matter? Because Islam is a uniquely effective and insidious proselytizing religion. It is the only intellectual force in the world capable of challenging Western democratic liberalism and at the helm of Scotland is a self-proclaimed follower of Islam, who cannot be expected to withstand pernicious attempts by Islamists to make the UK into a Sharia nation. Understand that this is a long term goal of theirs that is not close to succeeding, but in the short term attacking freedom of speech by making criticism of Islam taboo is bearing fruit. The best recent example is The Hate Crime and Public Disorder (Scotland) Act 2021 which Humza helped pass and is accused of being an anti-blasphemy law in disguise due to the arbitrary vagueness of the offense of ‘stirring up’ religious hatred. Actions like these come alongside regular calls by Islamic organizations to ban Islamophobia, which in most cases is simply criticism of Islam, and hysteria whipped up over minor incidents like an autistic schoolboy dropping a Quran accidentally this February. 

Finally, who a leader is is just as important as what he does. The perception that a leader is weak on, unopposed to, or accepting of your ideology can embolden people, even if he technically changes nothing. Hence in Brazil the perception that Jair Bolsonaro cared little for the environment unleashed a wave of opportunistic rainforest exploiters even if the laws themselves on Amazon land grabbing had not changed. The machinery of state, the civil service, become hesitant to apply laws that defend freedoms when they sense their executive is not behind them. In short Humza Yousaf, in the position of First Minister, could embolden Scottish Islamists and weaken resistance to them at the same time, all when the shaky economy and global situation is undermining support for liberal democracy worldwide.