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Scottish First Minister takes to Twitter to slam ‘Islamaphobic attack’ by UK newspaper

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has taken to Twitter (X) to defend himself against what he described as an “Islamaphobic attack” by a UK newspaper.

Yousaf took to the social media platform to address a story “so outrageous it requires a response” after The Telegraph reported claims from a Scottish Conservative MSP that a donation to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) was a “conflict of interest.”

The Scottish government donated £250,000 to the UNRWA aid agency in November 2023, at the same time as Mr Yousaf’s parents-in-law were among millions trapped in the enclave.

The Daily Telegraph also reported that Yousaf was being accused of overriding officials’ recommendations to give Unicef, a different UN agency, between £100,000 and £200,000.

The debate comes after the US and other Western countries blocked funding to UNRWA over Israeli allegations that some aid workers took part in Hamas’s October 7 attacks, crippling humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

In a lengthy thread on Twitter the first minister said: “Most of my political life, I’ve battled insinuations from sections of the media desperate to link me to terrorism despite campaigning my whole life against it.”

Yousaf, the first Muslim to hold domestic Scottish politics’ highest post, added that the story “peddles far-right conspiracy theories” used against him because of his religion and ethnic background.

He added: “To be clear, the Scottish government gave money to Gaza, like virtually every government in the West, because of the unarguable humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded there.”

Yousaf stressed that the funding given to UNRWA was “always intended for the people of Gaza” despite the accusations that he went against proposed advice to donate to UNICEF instead.

The Telegraph story claimed Mr Yousaf told officials that, since he was about to meet senior UNRWA delegates in Edinburgh, “we should just announce an extra £250k to them.”

This reportedly went against advice that the money should go to Unicef for water programmes.

Stephen Kerr, the Scottish Conservative backbencher, who initally raised the concerns, has stood by his claims that Yousaf had a “clear conflict of interest” when he overrode officials to direct where aid was sent while members of his family were trapped in the warzone and described Yousaf’s response as an “overreaction.”

In response, SNP deputy leader Keith Brown has called for Kerr’s sacking as a Conservative candidate.

Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and most of the population displaced, many living in overcrowded makeshift camps in the southern city of Rafah, since Israel invaded Gaza in response to the October Hamas attacks.

Yousaf is currently in London, where he held a meeting with the Council of Arab Ambassadors, which includes representatives from Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Libya and the Palestinian territories, last night ahead of a speech on the economy today (Tuesday 12).

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