Turkish media has reported that members of a Turkish Islamist party were in attendance at the opening of the new Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Egypt. According to a report in the Hurriyet newspaper:
May 22, 2011 ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires
Egyptian Muslim brotherhood Shura council members gather to be photographed outside the new Muslim brotherhood headquarters in Cairo. AP photo The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has opened its new headquarters in Cairo after 60 years of being banned, in a ceremony attended by officials from a Turkish Islamist party. Felicity Party, or SP, deputy leader Hasan Bitmez and board member O?uzhan Asiltürk were among the political figures from Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Somalia and Turkey that attended the opening ceremony in the Moqattam area along with Egyptian intellectuals. ‘For 60 years we were considered an illegal group, we were raided and arrested by the police all the time, but now we have our headquarters legally and we even put the logo of the Muslim Brotherhood onto the chairs,’ one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Ashraf Abdel Ghaffar, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Sunday. Bitmez said the Muslim Brotherhood will play an important role in the future of Egypt, the Anatolia news agency reported. His colleague Asiltürk said it was very good that the Muslim Brotherhood now has a headquarters in Cairo after such a long time.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has recently published a report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” which provides extensive background on the years leading up to the flotilla. The JCPA report describes the Felicity (Virtue) Party as the successor to an earlier Islamist party centered on the late Necmettin Erbakan:
Erdogan continued his position with the NSP until the Party was closed by a military coup in 1980 and followed [Necmettin] Erbakan into the Refah (Welfare) Party that took is place in 1983. Refah, described as “an explicitly Islamist party, which featured strong anti- Western, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, and anti-secular elements,” was itself banned in 1988 for violating the constitutional principle of secularism, and yet another party, Felicity (Virtue), took its place almost immediately In 2001, Felicity was also banned, and it split between Erbakan’s followers who created the Saadet Party and Erdogan’s followers who established the more “pragmatic” Justice and Development Party (AKP) with Erdogan, by now the mayor of Istanbul, elected as its founding chairman.
The JCPA report also provides further details about the relationship of the European Muslim Brotherhood to the Turkish Islamist movement founded by Erbakan:
Meanwhile, in Europe the Global Muslim Brotherhood has fused with the Turkish Islamist political movement founded by Necmettin Erbakan. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany maintains an intimate relationship with the Islamische Gemeinschaft Millî Görüs (IGMG) described by the German domestic intelligence agency as having its “ideological roots” in the ideas of Erbakan, who founded the movement in the late 1960’s and served as its former chairman. The German intelligence agency describes the IGMG:
“The IGMG is a pan-European organisation with around 87,000 members, according to its own statements. The European headquarters is located in Kerpen (North Rhine-Westphalia). The number of IGMG members in Germany is assessed to amount to 27,500 individuals. Its numerous institutions and wide range of offers reach a much larger circle of people, though. According to its own statements, the IGMG has 514 mosque communities, 323 of them in Germany.”
The German domestic intelligence agency also identifies the organization known as the “Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland” (IGD) as essentially the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany.70 Ibrahim El-Zayat, for many years the leader of the IGD, is married to Sabiha El-Zayat, the sister of Mehmet Sabri Erbakan, the nephew of Necmettin Erbakan. In addition, Mr. El-Zayat is listed as an officer of a German business called SLM Liegenschaftsmanagement Gesellschaft für Finanzvermittlung und Consulting mbH, established in 1997 and associated with the IGMG.72 Oguz Ücüncü, the General-Secretary of the IGMG, is also listed as an SLM officer.73 Since 1995, Mr. El-Zayat has also been the manager of the Europäische Moscheenbau- und Unterstützungs Gemeinschaft (European Mosque Building Association), which the German domestic intelligence agency refers to as representing the real estate holdings of Milli Görüs.
The Hurriyet report also detailed comments by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood chairman about the groups Egyptian expansion plans:
The chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Mohamed Badie, who presided over the opening of the headquarters, said the group’s aim was ‘to have a civilian government with a reference to Islam.’ Dr. Abdel Ghaffar said the Muslim Brotherhood now had offices in 26 cities and aimed to have one in every city in Egypt.