A Union of Good website has announced that the European Campaign to End the Siege On Gaza (ECESG) is attempting to recruit international athletes to participate in the next Gaza flotilla. According to the report:
The European campaign to End the siege on Gaza (ECESG) revealed that it will soon make contacts with a number of well-known international athletes, particularly in Europe, to explore the possibility of their participation in Freedom Flotilla 2, which is scheduled to sail to the Gaza Strip by the end of September. Rami Abdo, a member of the campaign, said in a statement from Paris on Wednesday: “After a number of athletes expressed interest in participating in Freedom Flotilla 2. The European campaign will make during the next few days a series of phone calls in France and Spain with a number of well-known athletes, such as the captain of the Spanish World Cup team, Iker Casillas, to explore the possibility of their involvement in the Freedom Flotilla to break the siege on Gaza. He explained that the move is meant to bring the public’s attention towards the humanitarian mission and Palestinian cause. Abdo said that communications will be done in secrecy, particularly concerning the names of the athletes expected to participate in the aid mission, because of anticipated pressure on the athletes and their clubs by Israel, especially since Israel has already pressured European countries to prohibit their citizens from involvement in the flotilla. Some web sites quoted Casillas as saying that he would not attend World Cup championship celebrations in Madrid, expressing his sorrow for what is happening in Gaza. “You find it impossible for people to participate and laugh after seeing what’s happening in the Gaza Strip,” Casillas said, asserting that Spain’s World Cup championship celebration is only partial as long Gaza remains under siege. Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal also condemned Israel’s 2008-2009 attacks on the Gaza Strip. The campaign said that more than 35 news organizations have requested to participate in Freedom Flotilla 2, in an attempt to provide unprecedented news coverage to detect Israeli follies against international peace activists. Freedom Flotilla 2 has been postponed till the end of September because of the extended base of participants, especially from European countries.
An earlier post discussed plans by the ECEFG for its women’s affiliate to have a ship in the next flotilla.
A NEFA Foundation report documents the numerous ties between the ECESG and the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. In addition to his role as charman of the ECESG, Arafat Madi (aka Arafat Madi Shoukri) is the executive director of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) which has also strong ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Two PRC directors are also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), generally regarded as part of the UK. Muslim Brotherhood. PRC director Ghassan Four is also a Trustee of INTERPAL, a key member of the Union of Good and part of the Muslim Brotherhood Hamas fund-raising network . PRC director Zaher Birawi is a Trustee of Education Aid for Palestine (EAP), also a part of the Union of Good. Mr. Birawi is also head of programming for Al-Hiwar TV which frequently features MB/Hamas individuals and organizations and was founded by Azzam Al-Tamimi, a U.K Muslim Brotherhood leader and close to Hamas. An Israeli web site, known to be close to Israeli military intelligence, has reported that Mr. Birawi, along with another PRC Trustee, are “past Hamas operatives who found refuge in Britain in the early nineties.”
The PRC has also been the co-sponsor of several conferences in Europe associated with Hamas. For example, the PRC was the co-sponsor of the Sixth Palestinians In Europe Conference which featured Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), former US. Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Akram Al-Adlouni, and Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel and close to Hamas. The 2009 conference was addressed via video link by Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.