Belgian Muslim Brotherhood Holds First Islamic Expo In Brussels; Gathering Addressed By European Parliament VPBy
The Kuwaiti press agency is reporting on what is described as the first Islamic expo in Brussels, Belgium that was organized by the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood and addressed by important leaders of the Global Muslim Brotherhood as well as by the Vice-President of the European Parliament. According to the report:
BRUSSELS, Sept 29 (KUNA) –The first Islamic expo in Brussels is taking place at a very right moment, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Faisal Trad, said here Saturday. Speaking to the Kuwait news agency, KUNA, at the sidelines of the fair, he said “it comes at the right moment especially in these difficult times.” Trad was referring to the anti-Islam film made recently in the US and the reproduction by a French magazine of cartoons that insult the prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). “These people try to hurt our prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), but of course nobody can hurt him at all,” stressed the Saudi ambassador. “This fair which focuses on identity, religion and citizenship comes at the right moment to give a message to everybody, especially to the Europeans, that Islam is a religion of tolerance and justice and we can dialogue and communicate and live and coexist in peace with others,” added the Saudi ambassador. On her part, the vice president of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, who also visited the fair today told KUNA that “I speak today as a Belgian and as an ecologist and I think it is a very important to have this opportunity to dialogue and discuss with the Muslim people.” “Muslims here are citizens of Europe. We have to discuss and find the way of dialogue if we want to fight against populism and against all those who want to present the Muslims as extremists,” she said. “It is the first time that such a fair is being held in Brussels and I think this can help if citizens of Brussels visit this fair and have contacts with different groups,” added Durant. The League of Belgian Muslims has joined hands with a France-based investment company called Gedis, to organise the first Muslim fair in the Belgian capital. The three-day expo is divided into two parts, a business side and a cultural side including a symposium and lectures. Islamic preachers Sheikh Saad Al Braik from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Issam Bashir of Sudan, and European Islamic thinker Tareq Ramadan addressed the symposium urging for tolerance and respect of religious beliefs and faith. Karim Azzouzi, vice president of the League of Belgian Muslims, told KUNA that the Muslim populaiton in Belgium is between 500,000 to 600,000. Belgium has a total population of about 10 million. A large number of visitors flocked to the fair Saturday.
A NEFA Foundation report identifies both the League of Belgian Muslims (Ligue des Musulmans de Belgique) and its VP Karim Azzouzi as part of the the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood.
Doctor Isam El-Bashir is a former Minister of Religious Affairs in the Islamic National Front (NIF), Turabi’s Sudanese political party, and a member of the Sudanese “Transitional National Assembly”, composed primarily of members of the NIF. As previous posts have reported, Dr. Basheer ((aka Issam El-Bashir) ) has held numerous positions associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood including as a former director of the UK charity Islamic Relief and a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. He currently heads the Center for Moderation in Kuwait which is also associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood.
Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.” Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). Previous posts discussed his dismissal from his positions as an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam and from a Dutch University over his role as a talk show host on Iranian TV. A ban on Ramadan traveling to the US was lifted in January 2010 and several posts have discussed his recent visits to the US where he appeared at various US Muslim Brotherhood venues including giving the keynote at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago annual banquet in April 2010. Ramadan was also featured as a speaker at the 2012 annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.