Local media is reporting on the scheduled opening later this month of the controversial Boston mosque known as the Roxbury Mosque, associated with the Muslim American Society (MAS). According to a report in the Boston Globe:
The Muslim American Society, which is operating the new Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, or ISBCC, has scheduled two days of events to celebrate the completion of the building. The building had a soft opening last fall, during Ramadan, and has been in use since then, but the events on June 26 and 27 mark its formal inauguration as the Muslim community prepares to expand programming in the building. Major inaugural events will include an interfaith breakfast at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, across the street from the mosque; a ribbon-cutting, call-to-worship, and prayer service at the mosque; and a celebratory dinner at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. The dinner will feature a speech by US Representative Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is the first Muslim to serve in Congress; the breakfast will feature William A. Graham, Harvard Divinity School dean and a noted scholar of Islam, as well as a variety of local religious leaders. Mosque officials say they expect Governor Deval Patrick to attend the breakfast and Mayor Thomas M. Menino to attend the ribbon-cutting. “I see this as continuing the historic role that Boston has played in the cultural and religious history of America,” said Bilal Kaleem of the Muslim American Society. “This is where the Pilgrims landed and where a lot of the country’s first churches are, and we really see Muslim history in America having one of its key moments here.”
Last November, the Boston Phoenix has published a long investigative report on Roxbury Mosque. After detailing the history behind the mosque project, the report discusses the controversy surrounding the decision to turn the project over to the MAS:
For the past few years, mosque leaders have worked to allay fears that the new facility will harbor conservative practices, or even dangerous extremism. But the signs have been mixed. The mosque dropped its defamation lawsuit against the David Project, local media outlets, and other critics in 2007, marking the occasion with a large Intercommunity Solidarity Day at the mosque. The group also responded to criticism by accepting the resignation of mosque board of trustees member Walid Fitaihi, whose anti-Semitic comments had caused a stir, as well as calls for his removal — from, among others, the Globe in an editorial. But at the same time, the ISB elevated the community’s fears by handing over the project to MAS-Boston. The Muslim American Society is controversial among some terrorist experts. When MAS was established in 1992, its three founders had links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928, and is thought by some to be the spark that ignited the anti-West jihad. The ISB leaders initially handed off some of the mosque project’s operational functions, and then the fundraising, and finally the entire project — with MAS-Boston officially taking over in June 2007. By that time, Aljabri was MAS-Boston’s president. And one of the first things MAS-Boston did was put Fitaihi back on the mosque board of trustees. This spring, Fitaihi donated $250,000 to the mosque, for a matching-fund drive. Kaleem confirms that Fitaihi was the donor, and that he remains active in the mosque development. “It’s not like we’re hiding that,” says Kaleem. This all came on the heels of a 2005 coup at the Islamic Center of New England (ICNE) in Quincy. Long-time religious leader Eid was forced out; Khalid Nasr of Egypt was hired as imam. Many saw it as a victory of conservatives over moderates; some also saw it as part of a MAS-Boston takeover of area Islam. The ICNE leadership now consists primarily of MAS-Boston leaders — the same handful of whom also have moved into positions at ICNE’s academy, Al-Noor Academy, and other area Islamic institutions. They will be in charge of the new Roxbury mosque — which again begs the question of how inclusive it really will be. “The people who will be running the daily affairs [of the Roxbury mosque]are conservative — there is no hiding that fact,” says Eid. “We need to see whether they will be open to other practices.” The guiding Islamic thinkers who the ISB’s leaders recommend and whose theories they teach in classes at their Cambridge mosque include fundamentalists like Sayyid Qutb and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Ikhwani, the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and Jamaat-e-Islaami, fundamentalist Pakistani ideology, are the prominent belief systems. The popular Web sites used by members, and recommended by mosque leaders, are mostly fundamentalist, and rabidly homophobic. Kaleem says that those will not be the predominant teachings at the new mosque, and argues that any use of Qutb or al-Qaradawi’s teachings at ISB is restricted to their more progressive work. “Qaradawi is controversial, and rightly so, for his reprehensible views justifying suicide attacks in Israel,” says Kaleem. But “he’s on a very progressive side of things” with his teachings on gender relations, dietary law, and other aspects of modern life in the West. “That’s what people use and teach.” (Visit Shell Shocked to learn more about the mosque’s relationship with the media.)
The MAS was identified in a recent Hudson Institute report as a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closely tied to the Egyptian organization. What the Boston Phoenix report fails to explain is that according to other local media, the Islamic Society of Boston is also associated with the U.S. Brotherhood:
…public records indicate Al-Qaradawi and Alamoudi have both held leadership positions with the Islamic Society of Boston. Alamoudi, of Falls Church, Va., founded the Islamic Society of Boston in Massachusetts in 1982 and was the group’s first president, according to incorporation records in the Secretary of State’s office. Al-Qaradawi, who is based in Doha, Qatar, was listed as a member of the Islamic Society of Boston’s board of directors from at least 1998 until sometime in 2001. In 1993, when the Islamic Society of Boston set up a real estate trust, it identified al-Qaradawi as a “proposed additional trustee,” records show. The cleric never became a trustee of that real estate trust, which now holds title to the land on Malcolm X Boulevard where the new Islamic center is to be built. The Islamic Society of Boston identified al-Qaradawi as one of its four directors in its income tax return filed two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In July 2002, when the group filed its 2001 income tax return, however, al-Qaradawi’s name no longer appeared on the list of directors. 1
Other local media reports detailed extensive connections between ISB Chairman Osama Kandil and the global Muslim Brotherhood. The ISB subsequently brought a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper which reported on these connections as well against other parties but the suit appears to have been dropped.
(NOTE: 1 “RADICAL ISLAM; Outspoken cleric, jailed activist tied to new Hub mosque” The Boston Herald October 28, 2003 Tuesday ALL EDITIONS)