French media is reporting on last weekend’s 26th annual convention of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in France. According to one report, some 150,000 people attended the event, thought to be the largest Muslim convention in Europe, which featured the brothers Tariq and Hani Ramdan, the grandsons of the Hassan El-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to the report, Tariq Ramadan urged French Muslims not to isolate themselves and that in a modern society, the rule of law is “necessary for living together.” However, his brother Hani was said to have taken a “more radical approach” stating:
“Islamic law address the achievements and the excesses of modernity” and that Islam has “run the risk of reducing own criteria to Western culture. ” Jihad is scary because it is perceived as a synonym for “war” while the word means “effort, the fight for peace,” he explained, adding that “if Islam is attacked, God commands to defend. ” Today, Islam is attacked, Chechnya or in Gaza and Muslims have the right to defend itself”, he added, calling on Muslims to “engage”.
Hani Ramadan is the head of the Islamic Center of Geneva, founded by his father Said Ramadan, himself the son-in-law of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hani Ramadan is also a member of the board of the Swiss member of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization for Europe of which the UOIF is also a member. He is a frequent speaker at mosques associated with the UOIF and, as a previous post reported, will receive about $230,000 in damages as a result of being fired from a Swiss school for remarks he made defending stoning as an Islamic punishment in an article for a French newspaper.
The President of the UOIF, Lhaj Thami Breeze was reported to have told the convention that the ambition of his movement was “to help Muslims to reconnect with their religion and their successful integration” and that the concept of “positive secularism” launched by President Sarkozy “requires of us a positive response.”
Another report by Islam Online suggested that Gaza was a major focus at the event:
Ghazali and a group of his colleagues are selling t-shirts inscribed with 1330, the approximate number of Palestinians killed in the recent Israeli war on Gaza, on the sidelines of the Le Bourget….The “1330” project is only one of many similar initiatives to raise funds for ravaged Gaza during the four-day Le Bourget. Other activist groups are selling shirts printed with Palestinian symbols, including the “Sadaka” association which printed Palestine map on shirts on sale in the conference exhibition. Some are using posters showing scenes of the massive destruction inflicted by the Israeli aggression, while others circulate informative handouts about the Gaza population’s urgent need for help.