The U.S. State Department continued its support of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, in the latest in a series of exchange programs, this time involving unidentified Egyptian religious leaders. According to an announcement on the IIIT website:
Eight prominent religious leaders from Egypt representing eight different religious sects visited IIIT on May 6, 2008. The delegation came to the US as part of the State Department International Visitor Program entitled “Religion and Society: A Dialogue” with the purpose of promoting mutual understanding of the role of religion in society, the relationship of church and State, the American Muslim community, its institutions, and the status of other religious groups in the US. The group was addressed by Dr. Jamal Barzinji, Vice President of IIIT, who spoke about the IIIT, its mission, history, current activities and future plans, besides other issues such as citizenship and Islamic and the challenges of materiazlism in American society. The delegates shared their views on the role of Sufi orders in Egypt, particularly in promoting of moderate and spiritual understanding and practice of Islam.
Previous posts have reported on other international exchange activities involving IIIT which have included Chinese, Pakistani, French, as well as other Malay/Indonesian delegations, all of which were sponsored by the State Department.
IIIT was founded in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge” and Youssef Qaradawi, now the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, played an important role in the European meeting which gave birth to the organization. An earlier post also reported that Qaradawi was recently identified by the South African IIIT affiliate as an IIIT “executive member.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 and is still under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to withdraw from public view following the 2003 raids, but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late.