On Wednesday, July 8, 2009, IIIT welcomed Ambassador José María Ferré, Special Envoy for Muslim Communities and Organizations, the Government of Spain. Ambassdor Ferré is visiting the United States for meetings with leaders of the American Muslim community and others who are concerned with the status and conditions of Muslims as a minority in the United States. Mr. Ferre – an experienced diplomat who served in Beirut and Jerusalem among other Middle Eastern capitals – was the first to be appointed to a position designed to deal with Muslim communities and their organizations. He has served in the position since 2006.Mr. Ferré focused in his lecture on the demographics of the Muslim community in Spain, their history and their relationship with their “homelands” and the challenges this presents to their integration into the Spanish society. He presented the policies of the Spanish government in relation to Muslims and its role – and constraints – in supporting the Muslim community, particularly in the field of education of children and the training of Imams…..Mr. Ferré answered many questions from the IIIT students and scholars ranging from his opinion and impressions about the situation in Gaza and Palestine, to wearing of the veil in Spain, to education of Muslims in private and public schools.
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 in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids and although a report in the Washington Post from June 2007 indicated that IIIT and the SAAR Foundation were still under investigation by the Justice Department, IIIT seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. Previous posts have discussed other visits by foreign Muslims to IIIT sponsored by the U.S. State Department, a relationship between IIIT and George Mason University, and the role of IIIT in working with a probably Pentagon subcontractor in Iraq. Another post discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon. The French branch of IIIT was recently the co-sponsor of the first Swiss course offered to imams and Muslim community leaders on Swiss society while in June, the leader of IIIT UK was awarded the Order of the British Empire.