Finnish media has reported on the new imam serving the Finnish Muslim Brotherhood organization who was chosne following the death of the previous imam. According to a report in the Helsinki Times:
The new Imam of Finland’s leading Islamic society aims to strengthen dialogue between Finnish Muslims. ON 9 NOVEMBER Anas Hajjar was chosen as the new Imam of the Islamic Society of Finland. “The Society’s moderate line will hold,” Hajjar assured the Finnish News Agency (STT). Born in Damascus, Syria, Hajjar is familiar to Finns from the Finnish Broadcasting Company programme Muslimielämää, or “Muslim Life”. He has previously served as the Finnish Islamic Society’s chairman. Hajjar plans to continue to co-operate closely with other societies in the future, and thereby improve the position of Muslims in Finland. “We need to strengthen the dialogue between Muslims. We also need to scrutinise every service affecting Muslims to ensure that it works well, thereby making the lives of Muslims easier,” he says. For example, Hajjar believes that the status of religious instruction should be reinforced, so that people can be sure that their children and their identity are secure. The Society’s previous Imam, Khodr Khaled Chehab, died on 7 November. He was an influential and high-profile figure in Muslim immigrant circles. “His passing has come as a great loss to us. It has also shown us the fragility of life and the importance of education,” Hajjar reflects. Hajjar supports the organisation of Imam education at a university level. He says that there are not enough people in Finland at the moment capable of interpreting all problems or issuing fatwas, or religious opinions. Finnish Muslims are often forced to appeal to the European Council for Fatwa and Research. The Islamic Society of Finland was established in 1987 and is Finland’s second oldest Islamic society, which affords it a unique status. Finnish Tatars, who arrived in Finland from Russia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, established the first Islamic society in the 1920s. In addition to providing prayer services, the Society also organises religious teaching for children, for example. The Society also marries couples, mediates disputes and offers education to young people and adults in the Finnish, Arabic, Somali and Uyghur languages. It also operates an Islamic kindergarten as well as regional societies across Finland.
The website for the Federation of Islamic Organizations In Europe (FIOE) lists its Finnish member as only “Muslim Association” but the phone number provided belongs to the Islamic Society of Finland (ISF). A report on FIOE by the NEFA Foundation describes the organization as follows:
The Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) claims to be an independent organization representing the interests of Muslims in Europe. In reality, the FIOE is an umbrella group that comprises the global Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Strong links connect FIOE’s leadership central institutions and member organizations to the Brotherhood, as well as to Saudi Arabia. Funding for the FIOE is derived largely from Gulf sources, including some of the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates. The FIOE has strong ties to Hamas and Hamas fund-raising organizations, and some FIOE member organizations show evidence of links with Al-Qaida. The FIOE recently opened a headquarters office in Brussels and has had some success in positioning itself as a “dialog partner” for the EU and other important institutions.
The home page for the ISF suggest links not only to FIOE but also to the Saudi Muslim World League and past pages have linked to Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi as well as the to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
A previous post reported that an ISF officer welcome plans to set up an Islamic political party in Finland.