The Arabic language edition of France-based Euronews has drawn ridicule on social media after a post on the news network’s Facebook account mistakenly used an image of US Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf to announce the historic election of Scotland’s Humza Yousaf as the new leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The now-deleted Facebook post included a photo of the American Sufi sheikh with the caption: “Hamza Yusuf is the first Muslim to win the leadership of the government of Scotland”.
— Joshua Ralston (@jbralston) March 27, 2023
After narrowly winning a six-week party leadership contest, Yousaf is to be formally elected as Scotland’s first minister, becoming the first Muslim and ethnic minority leader of the nation. He will also become the third leader of Asian heritage in the British, Scottish and Irish parliaments, joining British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf was once dubbed the most “influential Muslim scholar in the Western world” and is currently listed among the top 50 influential Muslims in the world, according to this year’s edition of “the Muslim 500” publication, which is released annually by the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. Despite his prominence, Yusuf faced criticism over his inclusion in a panel of experts advising the Trump administration, and has previously served as an adviser to the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The post which had already received a “laughing” reaction emoji was quickly picked up by theologian Joshua Ralton, a lecturer in Muslim-Christian Relations at the University of Edinburgh, who shared a screenshot on Twitter.
Several social media users reacted to the gaffe by suggesting it was expected given the shared name and similar spellings, with Ralston saying it was “inevitable”. ITV News journalist Tam Hussein agreed.
— Tam Hussein (@tamhussein) March 27, 2023
NBC journalist Aina Khan tweeted: “I was waiting for this”, while writer Yahya Birt said, “It had to happen, somewhere, somehow.”
I was waiting for this https://t.co/C3pwz0qhox
— Aina J. Khan (@ainajkhan) March 27, 2023
One social media user extended congratulations to the California-based, Muslim liberal arts college Zaytuna College, which was co-founded by Yusuf, who also serves as its president.
— Tahair (@tahair94) March 27, 2023
Another user quipped that they didn’t need to understand Arabic to know what went wrong.
I dont have to understand Arabic to understand what happened here, LOL https://t.co/ce9tRy9xKg
— Dr Muslim Swiftie (@TheNizAhmed) March 27, 2023
Lecturer in Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford, Dr Usaama Al-Azami, had this to say about the blunder:
Palestinian-Canadian Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rafeef Garbi remarked: “All they had to do was add Scotland to their Google search of his name,” before asking “How lazy is journalism these days?”
One of the most interesting reactions came from Ali Altaf Mian, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Florida, who pondered on the implications of AI “taking over”.
A post with the correct image of the SNP leader has since been posted on the social media site.