Turkish media has reported that U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Turkey between April 6-7 to attend an annual forum of the Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) in Istanbul, an organization which is represented in the U.S. and Europe by individuals sympathetic to the global Muslim Brotherhood. According to the AOC website, the AOC “High Level Group Members” in the U.S. and Western Europe are:
- Prof. John Esposito (United States)
- Rabbi Arthur Schneier (United States)
- Hubert Védrine (France)
- Karen Armstrong (United Kingdom)
Esposito, a Georgetown University academic, has been a long-time supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood and has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine. He has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations including having served on the advisory boards of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. and the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S. and has served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the Steering Committee of the Circle of Tradition and Progress. In 2005, Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal, a financial supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito. According to his CV, Dr. Esposito had previously been a “Foreign Affairs Analyst” for the U.S. State Department intelligence agency (INR) and during the 1990’s was known for his claims that Islamic fundamentalism was, in fact, democratic and posed no threat to the U.S.
Dr. Esposito’s influence on the AOC may perhaps account for the AOC support of global Brotherhood positions and organizations. For example, previous posts have discussed the effort by the U.S. Brotherhood to eliminate reference to “Islamic terrorism” from the lexcion of counter-terrorism. An AOC report echoes this theme:
Assertions that Islam is inherently violent and related statements by some political and religious leaders in the West – including the use of terms such as “Islamic terrorism” and “Islamic fascism” – have contributed to an alarming increase in Islamophobia which further exacerbates Muslim fears of the West.
As other posts have discussed, in order to defend Islam (Islamism) from charges that it is inherently violent/terroristic, the Brotherhood deceives the public about the nature of Jihad. Another AOC report similarly obfuscates:
Among the intra-Muslim debates that most directly affect relations with Western societies is that over the concept of “jihad”. The notion of jihad is a rich one with many shades of meaning, ranging from the struggle between good and evil that is internal to every individual (often referred to as the “greater” jihad in Islam) to the taking up of arms in defense of one’s community (the “lesser” jihad). Increasingly, this term is used by extremists to justify violence with little consideration for the historical context and the related religious exigencies that most Muslim scholars agree should inform its application. When such exhortations to violence by radical factions are picked up and amplified by media and Western political leaders, the notion of “jihad” loses the multiple meanings and positive connotations it has for Muslims and becomes only associated with violent and negative meanings which have been wrongly attributed to the term.
Also key to the global Brotherhood deception campaign is the defense of violence carried out by Islamist groups. Since according to the Brotherhood these groups cannot, by definition, be motivated by Islamic ideology, there can be only one answer- they are fighting because of “legitimate grievances” and hence are “freedom fighters. As the same AOC report asserts:
In evaluating the relations between Western and Muslim societies it is important to note that Islamist activism does not necessarily produce Islamist militancy within societies and the latter does not automatically lead to violent confrontation with the West. It is the invasion of certain Muslim countries by Western military forces and their continued presence in these countries, combined with the suppression of political movements in the Muslim world, that are among the reasons for violent manifestations.
In a report on education, the AOC lauds the work of three organizations said to be engaged in the reform of religious education:
In the Muslim community, to cite one example among many, efforts have been ongoing for decades with the purpose of reforming religious education (often called Islamic Studies) in order to make it more relevant to the needs of modern youth, and to find a workable balance between traditional and innovative methods of instruction. Much of this work has taken place among Muslims who had emigrated to Western countries after World War II. Examples are the Islamic Foundation (www.islamic-foundation.org.uk/) established in 1973, Iqraí International Educational Foundation established in 1983, the International Board of Educational Research and Resources (IBERR) (www.iberr.org) established out of a series of international conferences between 1977 and 1987 to improve religious education, for the purposes of producing curriculum and instructional materials for Muslim youth.
IBERR, Iqra, and the Islamic Foundation, are all tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood. The report goes on later to cite the work of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), an organization initiated by Dr. Esposito in 1998 and also tied to the global Brotherhood.
Dr. Esposito appeared to have had lost considerable influence following his pre-911 denials that Islamism posed a threat to the U.S, but this is not the first time that his name has recently surfaced in connection with high-profile Obama administration events. Earlier this month Chas Freeman, the former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, withdrew his name from consideration for the post of National Intelligence Council chairman. Although no longer listed as such, Mr. Freeman was widely reported at the time of his nomination to have been the President of the MIddle East Policy Council where Dr. Espositio is listed as a member of the National Advisory Board along with numerous other supporters of the global Brotherhood including Louis Cantori of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and Omar M. Kader of CSID.
Of the other three members of the AOC, Karen Armstrong has the strongest ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. She has written numerous books and articles sympathetic to Islamist movements and in 2004 was presented with an award by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists UK (AMSSUK), branch of the U.S. organization headquartered at IIIT.
New York Rabbi Arthur Schneier attended the July 2008 Madrid interfaith conference where, as a previous post discussed, almost all of the attendees from the U.S. and Europe were associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood.
Hubert Védrine is a French Socialist politician and former adviser to former French President Francois MItterand widely thought of as anti-American and who has also taken positions on terrorism consistent with the global Brotherhood.