A Saudi newspaper based in London has recently reported on remarks by the director of the French office of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIT) which, at first glance, appear to argue in favor of liberal democracy and integration of Muslim citizens in Europe. According to the report:
With regard to the crisis of the “westophobia” concept within the Islamic eastern societies, Mohamed Mestiri blames the political and Islamist action group for the spread of the address of this term. These groups have excluded the intellectuals who call for a pluralistic ideology and the revival of the Islamic civilization. This is because these groups fear the strong pressure that the intellectuals could exert in their societies. Now, these groups are in a critical situation within their societies. The director of the International Islamic Thought in Paris calls on the “phobic” Islamist sides to stop talking about the fears of integration under the pretext of fear of dissolving, which Mestiri considers to be a deceptive call. He stresses that integration means “respect of law and secular principles.” Mestiri emphasizes that they are positive in two aspects. The first aspect is the freedom of religion for the individuals, and the second is the neutrality of the state toward the religious rites. In exchange, Mestiri calls on the governments to respect the individual religious, cultural, and national character of the Muslims for the sake of making the integration succeed.
However, in the beginning of the report, the paper cited other remarks by Dr. Mestiri suggesting that he believes that “islamization” might proceed at some future date:
With regard to the hysterical fear of Islam, “Islamophobia,” which lies in the fears of reviving the Islamic movements in Europe and the Islamization of the west, Mohamed Mestiri considers that the “Islamization of Europe” is no more than a mere slogan created by the western extremists as a result of the increase in the number of Muslims in the western societies. Mestiri points out that Islamization or anything else in reality requires strength of political representation and participation in the European parliaments, in addition to economic weight that the Muslims currently lack. He also stresses that “it is not important to be a minority or a majority; what is important is the ability to influence.”
IIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” 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 withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids, but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.