According to a press release, the organization United for Change will host a conference on the anniversary of 911 titled “United We Stand: One Nation, One Destiny” to “shed light on the threat of anti-Muslim sentiment.” According to the release:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On September 10, the organization United for Change will host a conference titled “United We Stand: One Nation, One Destiny” to shed light on the threat of anti-Muslim sentiment and how to move the nation forward as a positive force in the world. The program will center on mercy and compassion as the core themes of the Islamic message, and how to translate them into constructive action for all Americans. Leading scholars and activists will take part in lectures that address the growing acceptance of anti-Muslim incivility in the West and how to foster an environment of unity in face of division. The day’s events will also include a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 and the Norway attacks, and conference organizers will encourage attendees to participate in a 9/11 Unity Walk the following day. “As Muslims, we wish to use this program to declare in a clear and unambiguous voice, we will not allow the spirit of our times to rob us of our compassion. We will not allow the distortions of our religious teachings, and the baseless caricaturing of our community to lead us to respond to the challenges of our day in a merciless fashion,” said Imam Zaid Shakir, Chairman of United for Change. “[9/11] has affected the destiny of Muslims, who lost people that day. This event has become a symbol for the demonization of Muslims and for saying that they are violent. What better time to say that we are above these accusations?”
The press release indicates that the following individuals will be speaking at the conference (descriptions provided by the announcement)
- Karen Armstrong, English author of comparative religion
- Dr. Tariq Ramadan, leading Islamic intellectual
- Dr. John Esposito, Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University
- Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College
- Anya Cordell, Jewish activist
- Dr. Merve Kavakci-Islam, Turkish Parliamentarian
- Yasir Qadhi, leading American Muslim scholar;
Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.” Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). Previous posts discussed his dismissal from his positions as an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam and from a Dutch University over his role as a talk show host on Iranian TV. A ban on Ramadan traveling to the US was lifted in January 2010 and several posts have discussed his recent visits to the US where he appeared at various US Muslim Brotherhood venues including giving the keynote at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago annual banquet in April 2010. He was scheduled to give the keynote address at the 16th annual CAIR banquet in October.
Dr. Esposito has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine and during the 1990’s was known for his claims that Islamic fundamentalism was, in fact, democratic and posed no threat to the U.S. Dr. Esposito has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations including having served on the advisory boards of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K, enjoyed a close relationship with the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S., and has served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the Steering Committee of the Circle of Tradition and Progress. In 2005, Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal, a financial supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito.
A report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the 2010 Gaza flotilla describes Dr. Merve Kavakci as follows:
Another individual with ties to both Mr. Erbakan and ISNA is Merve Safa Kavakç?, a Turkish politician who was elected as a Virtue Party deputy for Istanbul on April 18, 1999. Ms. Kavakci has been a frequent speaker at ISNA events and her father, Dr. Yusuf Zaia Kavakci, who has praised Muslim Brotherhood ideologues such as the Sudanese Hassan Turabi and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, was elected in 1997 to the “Shura” or leadership council of ISNA.
The late Necmettin Erbakan has been described as the founder of the Turkish Islamist movement and close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood while Islamic Society of North America is an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2001 Yasir Qadhi, was embroiled in controversy centered on his remarks denying the Holocaust. According to the UK Sunday Telegraph (see Note 1), Qadhi described the holocaust as a hoax, claiming that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews” and “all this [the Holocaust]is false propaganda”. Although he later claimed he had been misled into making these statements, he more recently posted links to articles by a notorious Holocaust denier on an Islamic online forum, according to the Centre for Social Cohesion.
United For Change describes itself as follows:
United For Change began as a result of a recent trip to Mali. …United For Change is dedicated to helping to bring about a world where the loftiest principles of Islam are actualized as the basis for Muslim unity as well as focused, purposeful work directed towards the alleviation of human suffering that is directly attributable to human neglect, insensitivity and wantonness. United For Change exists to facilitate the unity of Muslim organizations in North America to address through collective action monumental tasks that are larger than the human and material resources of any individual group. Through this effort we aim to foster greater unity, cooperation and goodwill between participating groups and organizations and to be a source of compassion, empathy and relief for impoverished and marginalized communities both here in North America and abroad.
The current speaker’s list for United For Change features numerous individuals tied to the U.S. and Global Muslim Brotherhood including Tariq Ramadan, John Esposito, Merve Kavakci-Islam, and Yasir Qadhi all discussed above, as well as
- Imam Siraj Wahhaj (American Islamic convert tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing)
- Sherman Jackson (Islamic Society of North America)
- Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini (Fiqh Council of North America)
- Mohammed Magid (Islamic Society of North America)
An earlier post discussed the Global Muslim Brotherhood ties of United For Change co-founder and former board Asthma Mirza. The same post describes a 2010 United For Change conference in Montreal which was expected to feature many Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
A Hudson Institute report provides detailed information on the ties of many of the organizations and individuals to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
(note 1: The Sunday Telegraph (London) January 3, 2010 “special investigation; Bomber’s mentor invited to spread hate in Britain; Banned extremist addressed young audiences at universities and mosques seven times in three years)