According to U.S. government sources, the Institut Avicenne des Sciences Humaines (IASH) is an academic facility for the education of imams and Muslim chaplains, opened in Lille in 2006 The IASH trains Muslim clerics in Islamic religion, history, and culture, as well as in French history and culture and is financially supported by France, Libya, Qatar, and Tunisia. The President of IASH is Mohamed Bechairi, a leader of the National Federation of French Muslims (FNMF) with close ties to Morocco, and academic director Mohamed Mestiri, director of the Paris office of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), headquartered in Herndon Virginian and an important component in the U.S Muslim Brotherhood network.
IASH was likely the result of a series of meeting held in 2004 by a “committee of experts” organized by the French Interior Ministry who, according to a Le Monde article, wanted to develop a specifically French curriculum distinct from that of the Paris Mosque and of the Union of Muslim Organizations of France (UOIF). According to the article, the objective of the Interior Ministry effort was to take the Paris Mosque and the Union of Muslim Organizations of France (UOIF), the only two Muslim federations with centers for training imams, “out of the game.” The UOIF imam training facility is known as the Institut europÃ©en de sciences humaines (IESH) and is also associated with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) as well as the UOIF. Both FIOE and the UOIF, in turn, are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood network in Eruope. As detailed in an earlier post, the director of IESH has recently said that only 15 students per year are graduating from the the St. Denis IESH campus and that not all are becomming imams. According to the Le Monde article, the Interior Ministry believed the IESH curriculum to be “too rigid.”
While the IESH official Ahmed Jaballah was invited to the meetings as well as a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, also affiliated with FIOE, the French branch of IIIT appeared to play a much more important role, both hosting the initial meeting of the group and, as noted above, placing their director Mr. Maestri as the IASH academic director. The establishment of IASH seems to have created a rift between the the UOIF and IIIT A French media website contains a March 2006 interview with Mohamed Mestiri where he is asked if he will be participating in the upcomming annual meeting of the Union of the Islamic organizations of France (UOIF) and replies:
We will take part this year in the annual meeting of the UOIF neither as a lecturer nor as an exhibitor. I deplore a lack of opening on behalf of the organizers to all diversity within the Moslem community of France.
This statement alludes to a conflict in France between the UOIF and IIIT, both Muslim Brotherhood network organizations. This ia an unusual occurrence and while perhaps resulting from no more than a territorial dispute, requires further analysis.