Once again illustrating the close relationships within the U.S. and Global Muslim Brotherhood, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) has announced that it has organized a held a panel on ‘Constitutionalism and Democratic Transition in Tunisia’ at its headquarters in Herndon, Virginia on Saturday, May 5th, 2012. According to the announcement, senior members of theTunisian Constituent National Assembly participated and the event was facilitaed by the head of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID):
May 10, 2012 :: 49 Views The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) organized a panel on ‘Constitutionalism and Democratic Transition in Tunisia’ at its headquarters in Herndon, Virginia on Saturday, May 5th, 2012. Senior members from the Tunisian Constituent National Assembly participated in the panel, including: Merherzia Laabidi, Vice-President of the National Constituent Assembly; Zied Daoulatli, member of the National Constituent Assembly and member of the Executive Committee of al-Nadha Party; Mouldi Riahi, member and leader, Attakattol Bloc at the National Constituent Assembly; and Badreddine Abdelkafi, member and Deputy President, National Constituent Assembly, in charge of relations with civil society organizations. The event was facilitated by Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, Founder and President of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), who introduced the members of the delegation and thanked IIIT for organizing the panel. Dr. Jamal Barzinji, Vice President of IIIT welcomed the distinguished guests from Tunisia and pointed to the pioneering role and the great burden of responsibility that the makers of the new Tunisian constitution bear, particularly in view of the sweeping changes towards democracy in the Arab world. He emphasized the connection between political reforms in Tunisia and the region and the greater need for reform of Islamic Thought at all levels, a mission that IIIT has dedicated itself to since its inception in 1981. Ms. Meherzia Laabidi, Vice President of the National Constituent Assembly, explained the primary roles of the National Constituent Assembly, namely: 1) writing the constitution, 2) legislative function or writing the laws that would facilitate the transition to democracy, and 3) supervision or oversight over the executive branch of government. Ms. Laabidi reminded the audience that writing charters and founding documents is a legacy in the Tunisian and Muslim history. She pointed to the important principles in the constitution of 1956 such as equality between all citizens. Unfortunately, the 1956 was not implemented; otherwise it would have changed Tunisia into a modern state. Ms. Laabidi emphasized that the constitution derives its legitimacy from the will of the people and lays the foundation for building institutions of the modern state in Tunisia. This is why, she added, all the people of Tunisia should contribute to the writing of the constitution. The final document will be a reflection and a product of the national consensus of all peoples of Tunisia.
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The announcement identifies 3 of the 4 Tunisian participants as members of the Nahda movement, representing the Muslim Brotherhood of Tunisia.
A Hudson Institute report details how the IIIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who wished to promote the Islamization of Knowledge as conceived by Ismail Al-Faruqi and who were also early leaders of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism and both organizations had been under investigation at that time by the U.S. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2002 raids but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) was founded in 1998 largely by the efforts of Georgetown University academic Dr. Esposito who during the 1990’s served in the State Department as a “foreign affairs analyst” and who has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations. Many members of the early CSID board were associated with IIIT, the American Muslim Council, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). For example, past CSID board members included Jamal Barzinji and Taha Al-Alwani, both associated with IIIT and both important leaders in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood who helped to establish many of the most important U.S. Brotherhood organizations. Antony Sullivan, the current CSID Vice-Chair, has many ties to U.S. Brotherhood groups including the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), the United Association for Studies and Research (USAR), and the Circle of Tradition and Progress (COTP), a group whose other founding members included Youssef Qaradawi, the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood. From its inception, CSID has argued that the U.S. government should support Islamist movements in foreign countries and has received financial support from the U.S. State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Institute of Peace.
A post from earlier this month reported that Abdulaziz Sachedina, a former CSID board chairman, was appointed as the IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University.