Norwegian media is reporting that the Queen of Norway, in the first royal visit to a Muslim community, has visited a local mosque tied to the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in Pakistan. According to a translated newspaper report:
The Islamic Cultural Center mosque has never hidden where they get their ideological inspiration: from Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, an organization considered to be an extreme group on the extremist side of the religious and political landscape. When the Norwegian royal family wanted to visit a Muslim community in Norway for the first time ever Monday, they chose the Islamic Cultural Center. It’s unclear if Queen Sonja was aware of the links between the Islamic Cultural Center in Oslo and religious extremist groups in Pakistan. Spokesperson at the palace Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen says that the Queen was there after having received an invitation to open an exhibition, and added that generally that Royal family doesn’t comment on the reasons for their appearances. Per Sandberg, Deputy head of the Frp (Progress Party), thinks the royal family can naturally visit whomever they want. But, he says, he would have wished the queen didn’t legitimize a mosque with radical attitudes. She could have visited a mosque with moderate points of view. It’s a paradox that so many Muslims in Norway follow radical movements within Islam after they come to Norway. Laila Bokhari, researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, says that Jamaat-e-Islami is a fundamentalist and conservative movement. One of the movement’s top leaders, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, is, at best, unclear about his attitude towards al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, according to Bokhari. Ahmad was invited by the Islamic Cultural Center in Oslo in 2004 to give a speech. Fahrat Taj, originally from Pakistan, is writing a doctoral dissertation on human rights and Islam. She say that the Islamic Cultural Center, via its ideological links to Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, puts itself on the fundamentalist wing….The Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) sees in Jamaat-e-Islami a religious and ideological starting point. “Yes, it’s correct that we see in Jamaat-e-Islamic our source of inspiration,” says a spokesman. ICC is an independent community in Norway without organizational links to Jamaat-e-Islami in Paksitan. But when ICC sends humanitarian help, the money goes through organizations related to Jamaat-e-Islami.
The JEI was founded in 1941 and is Pakistan’s oldest religious party. The party had it’s origins in the thoughts of Maulana Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi (1903-79), the most important Islamist intellectual in the history of Southeast Asia. Maududi was also a major influence on the global Muslim Brotherhood with whom the JEI has long enjoyed close relations. In the United States, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is generally considered to represent the JEI. A previous post discussed a 3-day Islamic conference held in late October 2008 in Lahore that brought together leaders of the JEI with leaders in the global Muslim Brotherhood. Previous posts have discussed various anti-American, anti-Indian, anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic comments made by JEI leaders.