Osama Saeed

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Osama Saeed is a communications professional. Currently he is Head of Media and Public Relations at the Al Jazeera Media Network. Formerly he was a parliamentary candidate for the Scottish National Party.

Background[edit]

Saeed was born and brought up in Glasgow and went to school in Bishopbriggs.[1] He is a former adviser to Scotland's current First Minister Alex Salmond and a prominent media figure. He has been listed as one of Scotland's Top 100 thinkers and opinion formers by the Scotsman newspaper, one of the country's "Brightest and Best" by the Sunday Herald, and has been described as "Scotland's most influential Muslim" by the Sunday Times. The Evening Times referred to him in 2010 as one of the SNP's "bright rising stars".[2] His blog, "Rolled up Trousers" was named top Scottish political blog in 2007.[3] He is also an alumnus of the US State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program. After an attempt to be elected to the House of Commons, Saeed joined Al Jazeera in Qatar.

Al Jazeera career[edit]

Saeed manages Al Jazeera's global communications,[4] and his tenure since January 2011 has seen the network's strongest period of worldwide publicity. He was responsible for promoting the network's coverage of the Arab uprisings which won global plaudits, and culminated in awards including Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year and a Peabody. That year, Al Jazeera English also won a DuPont, a George Polk, and a Four Freedoms Award.

He has coordinated arguably the largest ever press freedom campaign after Al Jazeera journalists were jailed in Egypt.[5] He has organised campaigns around the world including in the United States, Australia, India, MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.[6]

Views and activities[edit]

Osama had an important role in the Stop the War Coalition, speaking at the antiwar demonstration on the eve of the Iraq war on 15 February 2003. He was once a volunteer spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain in Scotland. He has supported faith schools including Islamic schools. He wrote a 2005 article in The Guardian suggesting that the restoration of a Caliphate[7] could be based on democracy and human rights in response to comments by prime minister Tony Blair saying that it was the preserve of Al Qaeda.

After the 2007 Glasgow International Airport attack, Saeed organised what is considered to be the first ever Muslim-organised demonstration against Al-Qaeda terrorism in the world.[8] In March 2008, he called for legislation to be enacted against forced marriages,[9] with the Scottish Government announcing a consultation with a view to legislation on the issue a few months later.

Saeed went on to found the Scottish-Islamic Foundation which was launched with cross-parliamentary backing in June 2008. The leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties gave their support.[10]

In 2009, while chief executive of the SIF, Saeed organised the response[11] to the far-right Scottish Defence League holding protests in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Along with lawyer Aamer Anwar, he brought together a broad coalition called Scotland United to stage a celebration of multiculturalism including the STUC, Church of Scotland, Equality and Human Rights Commission, all the major political parties and many others.[12] He also organised a response to the attack by two Muslims youths on an Edinburgh synagogue by offering to protect the building.[13] He was a proponent of democracy in the Muslim world before the Arab Spring, making mention of freedom and accountability of leaders at SIF's launch[14] and in further speeches.[15]

Saeed's time at the Scottish-Islamic Foundation was dogged by allegations of cronyism after the organisation was awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds of grants by the SNP Government, for which he was a parliamentary candidate. The funding was investigated by Audit Scotland who concluded that the appropriate procedures were followed in allocating the grant.[16] The grant was to organise an Islamic cultural festival and a trade expo to attract investment from the Muslim world. Saeed suggested that Scotland hold a 'Tartan Week' in the Middle East to increase trade and investment.[17] After delays in delivery, the SIF returned much of the funding, but organised Salaam Scotland, Scotland's first national festival of Muslim cultures.[18] An independent auditor's report found no issues in the way Scottish Government grant money was accounted for.[19] Saeed resigned from the SIF in February 2010 before contesting the General Election in May 2010. The SIF closed in January 2011.[20]

In the 2010 General Election he stood as the SNP candidate for Glasgow Central. He finished in second place, improving the party's third place from the previous election and increasing their share of the vote by 2.7%.[21] His campaign concentrated on opposing public spending cuts proposed by the Conservative and Labour parties,[22] connecting Scotland to the high-speed rail network to London and Europe,[23] and attracted high profile endorsements.[24][25][26] Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said of Saeed: "I don't think I've ever met anyone better suited to face down the rigours of Westminster and to make a presentation of principle for his community and for his country. I've never met anyone better endowed with the qualities required to be an outstanding member of parliament."[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Muslims are also Scots, so treat us the same, Scotsman, 17 December 2007
  2. ^ The trio battling it out to succeed Sarwar, Evening Times, 29 April 2010
  3. ^ Dale, Iain (19 September 2007). "Guide to Blogging 2007: Top Twenty Scottish Blogs". Iain Dale's Diary. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Osama Saeed on LinkedIn
  5. ^ #FreeAJStaff: Al Jazeera's head of media shares the inside story of the campaign for press freedom
  6. ^ Osama Saeed Biography
  7. ^ Osama Saeed, The return of the caliphate, The Guardian, 1 November 2005
  8. ^ Scotland United Against Terrorism
  9. ^ Call for forced marriage debate, BBC News, 24 March 2008
  10. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/7475495.stm
  11. ^ Campaigners stage antiracism demo in Edinburgh, BBC News, 20 February 2010
  12. ^ Scotland United website
  13. ^ Edinburgh imams condemn synagogue attack, SIF blog, 20 March 2009
  14. ^ Osama Saeed speech at Scottish-Islamic Foundation launch
  15. ^ Speech on Islamism
  16. ^ http://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?gid=2010-04-29.25893.1
  17. ^ Muslim Scots launch 'Tartan Week' in the Middle East, Sunday Herald, 12 July 2009
  18. ^ Salaam Scotland Festival
  19. ^ http://socialistunity.com/muslim-group-is-victim-of-smears/
  20. ^ http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/islamic-lobbying-group-with-links-to-snp-faces-closure.19021125
  21. ^ Glasgow Central
  22. ^ SNP begin Glasgow Central campaign with cuts warning
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ Top cop backs Saeed for Central
  25. ^ Saeed campaign backed by leading lawyer
  26. ^ http://www.osamasaeed.org/news/what-they-say.html
  27. ^ Alex Salmond endorsing Osama Saeed

External links[edit]