Global media is reporting that six members of an Austrian Muslim Brotherhood youth organization were involved in an altercation at the Cordoba mosque in Cordoba, Spain. According to a report in the British Guardian newspaper:
A confrontation between Muslim tourists and guards employed by the Roman Catholic bishop at the world-famous Cordoba mosque saw two people arrested and two guards injured last night. Trouble broke out when the visitors knelt to pray in the building, a former mosque turned into a Christian cathedral in the 13th century, where a local bishop, Demetrio Fernández, recently insisted that a ban on Muslim prayers must remain. Half a dozen members of a group of more than 100 Muslims from Austria had started praying among the marble columns and coloured arches of the vast building when security guards or ordered them to stop. “They provoked in a pre-planned fashion what was a deplorable episode of violence,” the bishop’s office said in a statement. Cathedral authorities said the guards had invited the visitors to continue viewing the inside of a 24,000 sq metre building that was once the world’s second biggest mosque, but without praying. “They replied by attacking the security guards, two of whom suffered serious injuries,” the bishop’s office said. Local newspapers reported that a dozen police officers had been called into the building and that these, too, had been attacked when they tried to arrest the two visitors. The local Diario de Cordoba newspaper quoted anonymous police sources as saying that a knife had been taken off one of those arrested. A group of local Muslim converts have long campaigned for the right to pray at the mosque building. “The building is very big and the main cathedral occupies only a part of it,” said Mansur Escudero of the Junta Islamica group.
A self-described independent Algerian news source identifies the tourists as members of the Muslim Youth of Austria (MJO) (Muslimischen Jugend Österreichs (MJÖ):
The two tourists arrested after clashes with police in the Great Mosque/ Cathedral of Cordoba (Spain) were from Austria and have been “overwhelmed by the beauty of the place,” said Friday Muslim Youth of Austria (MJO), who organized the trip. The incident occurred Wednesday when six members of a group of 118 Muslims knelt to pray at the Islamic fashion, which is prohibited in the building that became cathedrals in the thirteenth century and World Heritage Site by Unesco. Acknowledging the facts, the association MJO said, in a statement issued in Vienna, “the group was captivated by the beauty and spiritual atmosphere of the place, so much so that a small number of them decided spontaneously to pray, not having the slightest idea of the consequences that could entail.” The MJO also confirmed the arrest of two young Austrians members of the group after clashes which have wounded two police officers called to intervene by the guards of the mosque/ cathedral. The MJO has expressed “hope” that the two tourists were released Saturday, adding that the whole affair was a “misunderstanding”.
The MJO is known as the youth organization of the Islamic Community of Austria (Islamischen Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich) and was reported by an Austrian research institute in 2006 to be a member of the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO). FEMYSO is the youth/student arm of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Over the years, FEMYSO has developed a relationship with both the Council of Europe and the European Commission where it has been invited since 2003 to attend meetings of the Group of Policy Advisers (GOPA). One of the important leaders of FEMYSO over the years has been Ibrahim El-Zayat, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and last reported to be under investigation by the German government in connection with the financing of Hamas.
It should also be noted that an Austrian news source reported in 2008 that the MJO is also affiliated with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). WAMY is a Saudi Arabian youth organization that is closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood and to FEMYSO.