The Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) has issued a statement calling Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi a “man of peace and tolerance” who has worked toward interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians. According to the statement:
Monday, March 26, 2012 The Union of French Islamic Organisations is surprised at the current controversy provoked by a statement by the National Front spreading inaccurate information about Sheikh Qaradawi when he has visited France and Europe on several occasions. The UOIF regrets that the climate of suspicion toward the Muslim community is the source of a controversy over information that has been available for months. Sheikh Qaradawi is a man of peace and tolerance who has worked for openness and moderation and whose positions are always in favour of justice and peoples’ freedom. He was received by Pope Jean-Paul II and for several years has carried out work on interfaith dialogue with Jewish and Christian communities around the world. He exercises a positive influence in the Muslim world and is continually attacked by extremist movements because of his modern positions in favour of democracy, women’s rights and dialogue between civilizations. Sheikh Mahmoud El Masri has been invited twice this year by different organisations in France to participate in numerous conferences and this did not then pose any problem for the French authorities. The UOIF regrets that dubious information supplied by the extreme right should be the source of such controversy. The UOIF calls on politicians and the media not to fall for the sickening amalgam by repeating the themes of the far right and exploiting the tragedy in Toulouse. The UOIF would emphasise that it rejects any importation of the Israel-Palestine conflict onto French territory and strongly condemns Islamophobia, racism and antisemitism. In this period of economic and social difficulty our national community needs to demonstrate unity and solidarity in order to take up the challenges we face. The UOIF invites all French citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims, to come and hear for themselves the lectures by the invited individuals. The speeches at the annual gathering of Muslims in France have always been marked by peace and tolerance. The Muslim community has always shown great responsibility in relation to painful events. This responsibility and openness to dialogue will be demonstrated, once again, on the 6 to 9 April, at the Parc des Expositions at Paris – Le Bourget on themes related to Faith, Reform and Hope. Still, the Front National can console themselves with the thought that they have the support not only of Sarkozy but of Harry’s Place too.
For the original French language statement, go here.
A post from yesterday reported that France had barred Qaradawi from entering France to attend next month’s conference to be held by the UOIF.
Qaradawi, a virulent anti-Semite is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.
The UOIF is widely regarded as representing the Muslim Brotherhood in France. Fouad Alaoui and Lahj Breze took over the leadership of the UOIF in 1993 and were known as the “Bordelaise Clan”, a reference to the French town in which they met as students. They were generally regarded as more moderate than their predecessors Abdallah Ben Mansour and Ahmed Jaballah who have both served as officers of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Foud Alaoui is also a FIOE officer. In June 2011, a post reported that the UOIF elected Ahmed Jaballah as its new President, replacing Fouad Alaoui who was elected to a four-year term in 2009 but resigned his post. An earlier post reported that Jaballah was identified as a member of the “Meeting of Muslim Scholars and Thinkers”, an organizaton sponsored by the Saudi Muslim World League. A post from last week discussed a UOIF condemnation of the recent shootings in France that echoes standard Global Muslim Brotherhood themes about terrorism.