The Croatian News Agency is reporting on a ceremony where a corner stone was laid for an Islamic centre and mosque to be built in Northern Croatia and partially funded by Qatar. According to the report:
Qatari Minister for Religious Affairs Ahmad Abdullah S. G. Al-Marri on Saturday laid the corner stone for an Islamic centre and a mosque to be built in the northern Croatian Adriatic port city of Rijeka. Guests at the ceremony included Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, the head of the Islamic community in Croatia, Grand Mufti Sevko Omerbasic, and the head of Bosnia’s Islamic community, Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric. Speaking at the ceremony, which was attended by a large number of Muslim believers from Rijeka and other parts of the country as well as from several European countries, President Mesic said that Croatia was a country of religious rights and freedoms in which all Muslim believers were treated with respect…The minister also said that Qatar had set aside USD 200,000 for preliminary construction work on the centre. Mufti Sevko Omerbasic said that the Islamic community in Croatia had so far invested EUR 1 million in the purchase of land and design documentation for the centre and that it would financially assist the local Muslim community until the completion of the project…..Ceric also called on the Qatari official to encourage his country’s leaders to commission ships from Croatian shipyards, saying that Croatian shipyards employed thousands of Muslim workers. ….The Islamic centre in Rijeka’s neighbourhood of Rujevica will be built on an area of 4,000 square metres, with its facilities covering an area of 2,368 square metres. The entire centre will accommodate up to 3,000 people. The centre will also include three apartments, a multipurpose hall, offices of the Islamic community, classrooms for religious instruction, a daycare centre, a restaurant, a reading room, and an underground garage. Around 10,000 Muslims live in the area of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, and the local Muslim community has 1,300 families. The mosque in Rijeka will be the third mosque in Croatia. The other two are in Zagreb and the eastern town of Gunja near the border with Bosnia. The Islamic centre, designed by sculptor Dusan Dzamonja, is expected to be completed by the end of 2011 and it will cost EUR 8-10 million.
A post from yesterday reported on the controversy involving U.K. Justice Minister Jack Straw who helped to obtain financing from the Emir of Qatar for a mosque in his constituency.
Individual Qatari officials have supported radical Islamists in the past. For example, in the 1990s, September 11 plotter Khaled Shaikh Muhammad worked in Qatar as an engineer. When the United States discovered his presence and demanded his arrest, a Qatari minister aided his flight to Pakistan. In the case of Hamas, however, Qatari support has been official policy. Qatar allows Hamas to maintain official offices in the country, permits Hamas to raise funds there through charities and telethons, and regularly hosts Hamas officials. Over the past few years, official government support for Hamas has increased drastically. Mashal and other Hamas leaders divide their time between Doha and the Syrian capital, Damascus. According to Mashal, Hamas “established a relation with Qatar ever since Prince Hamad bin Khalifa was the heir to the crown. A good relation[ship]developed with the people of Qatar. After he held the reins of power, the relation[ship]remained good. I had a personal relation with the prince and his minister of foreign affairs, Shaikh Hamad bin Jasem bin Jabr.” Following Saudi crackdowns on charitable financial flows exiting the kingdom, overt Qatari financial support for Hamas increased dramatically. Qatar pledged to donate $50 million to the then Hamas-run Palestinian Authority after the United States and European Union discontinued their support following Hamas’s victory in the January 2006 legislative elections. Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Qatar began citing the humanitarian crisis caused by the international financial isolation of Hamas in Gaza to justify its support for the group. In early 2008, however, a senior aide to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stated that Qatar gives Hamas “millions of dollars a month,” some of which may be used to purchase weapons.
The Washington Institute report also notes the relationship between Qatar and Youssef Qaradawi:
Prominent Muslim Brotherhood theologian Shaikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, who shared the podium with Mashal in Qatar last week, uses the platform of a regular show on al-Jazeera to proselytize his conservative and violent interpretation of Islam. Qatar openly tolerates his extremist views and Hamas fundraising, as al-Qaradawi noted at last week’s event: “I have been living in Qatar for many years and the Qatari government has never interfered in my activities.”
Youssef Qaradawi is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. Qaradawi is also known to be a leader of a charity coalition known as the Union of Good, described in a NEFA Foundation report as “a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. “
It should also be noted that previous posts have extensively discussed the relationship of Al-Jazeera and its management to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera is headquartered in Qatar.
It is interesting to note that the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), completed in 1983, was funded by $21 million raised from Brotherhood figures Youssef Qaradawi and Youssef Nada as well as the emir of Qatar.
(Source: HINA news agency, Zagreb, in English 1519 gmt 3 Oct 09 BBC Monitoring Europe – Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring October 5, 2009 Monday “Third mosque to be built in Croatia”)