ISNA Holds International Conference On Rights Of Religious Minorities; Chooses Advisors Part Of Anti-Semitic Theological Body


U.S. Islamic media is reporting that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has co-sponsored the ‘Inaugural International Conference on Citizenship and Minorities in the Muslim World’ in Tunis, Tunisia. According to an American Muslim report

On November 19-20, The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) co-sponsored the ‘Inaugural International Conference on Citizenship and Minorities in the Muslim World’ in Tunis, Tunisia. This groundbreaking conference represents ISNA’s ongoing work with Muslim leaders worldwide to establish consensus on Islamic standards and protocols for the advancement of religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. The other cosponsors of the conference were the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance and the Tunisian Ministry of Religious Affairs, led by Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Dr. Noureddine al-Khademi, respectively. Conference participants included Ambassador Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Bou Abdallah Ghulamullah, Algeria Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Ministers of Religious Affairs and scholars from numerous countries, including Syria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries. Since last year, ISNA has been working with Muslim scholars worldwide, particularly Sh. Abdallah Bin Bayyah, Vice President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, to develop a mechanism to address challenges faced by religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities around the world.  Last week’s conference is the latest in a series of scholarly meetings this year, including one this past July in Nouakchott, Mauritania. This conference serves as the inaugural event for an even larger conference of scholars which will be held in 2013 in Morocco. In advance of last week’s conference, ISNA commissioned three prominent scholars, Sh. Bin Bayyah, Dr. al-Khademi, and Sh. Rached Ghannouchi, Vice Secretary General of the International Union of Muslim Scholars to present foundational papers on the notion of citizenship and the rights of religious minorities. 

Read the rest here.

A post from July reported that Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, had attended the meeting in Mauritania identified above. A post from May reported that Rachid Ghannouchi would be speaking at INSA’s  49th annual convention in August.

The choice by ISNA of Mr. Ghannouchi and Abdallah Bin Bayyah to help protect the rights of religious minorities would seem ill-advised given the background of the two individuals. Both are known to have been members of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, the theological body headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and affiliated with the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, essentially comprising the European Muslim Brotherhood. The ECFR meets annually and a Wall Street Journal reporter who attended a 2004 meeting described the extremism and antisemitism that took place:

“…members, speaking in Arabic, explained how European Muslim family life was under attack. ‘Extremist fundamentalist powers based on aggression on the part of the Crusader and Zionist alliance in the West are now preparing their cultural strategy according to a new wave of secular tendencies,’ said Ahmed Ali Al- Imam, a Sudanese religious figure who advocates the implementation of sharia in his religiously divided country. Other papers accepted traditional norms that directly contradict Western law and society, especially regarding women and marriage. Women should only cut their hair with their husbands’ permission, and “any woman who would marry without a male guardian’s consent, her wedding is invalid,” declared Muhammad Hawari, a Germany-based member of the group. Sometimes the group’s advice seems aimed at Muslims from another era. ‘Children should eat clean food and use clean water. They should not urinate in water wells,’ Mr. Hawari wrote in a paper. Adoption, he added, was forbidden, because a woman might be seen in a state of undress by a child other than her biological offspring. And if a child is adopted, Mr. Hawari said they should not be given equal rights to biological children.”

The same reporter also wrote that a Council member cited “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a notorious anti-Semitic forgery written in czarist Russia, in a position paper on how Muslim families are under threat in Europe. “The Protocols, the speaker said, was evidence of a Jewish plot to undermine Muslim moral values through sexual permissiveness.” Qaradawi himself is 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. 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.

Qaradawi is also the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) where Bin Bayyah and Rachid Ghannouchi are serving as officers. The IUMS was launched on July 11, 2004 in conjunction with a visit by Youssef Qaradawi to London for a meeting of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Many prominent individuals tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood are or have been associated with the IUMS including:

  • Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza)
  • Safwat Hegazi (close to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood )
  • Isaq Farhan (Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood)

The only reasonable explanation for ISNA’s selection of Mr. Ghannouchi and Abdallah Bin Bayyah is its own ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. As documented in a Hudson Institute reportISNA grew directly out of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to its claim that ISNA has a “long record of fighting hate, extremism, and bigotry, including anti-Semitism”, the organization actually has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as a result of what the government called “ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” Although it is true that recently ISNA has issued condemnations of terrorism which for the first time identify Hamas and Hezbollah by name, there is no indication that the organization has ever addressed or acknowledged its history of support for terrorism. Also, as the Hudson Institute report observes, almost all of the ISNA founders remain active in the organization and ISNA maintains close relations with all other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. A previous post discussed the ties between the ISNA Secretary-General, a former leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter, and an Illinois school with close links to the Mosque Foundation, itself tied to fundraising for Hamas. Despite its long history of association with fundamentalism, terrorism, and anti-Semitism, ISNA has been successful of late in building alliances with Jewish leaders and organizations. Former ISNA officials such as Muzammil Siddiqi, Sayyid Syeed, and Mohamed Magid have been particularly active in promoting Holocaust awareness, including participating in a trip last August to concentration camp sites in Europe. A post from October 2011 reported on a  controversial conference associated with ISNA that was accused by a critics of being sponsored by organizers who made anti-Semitic and anti-gay remarks.

For more background on Mr. Ghannouchi, go here.

For more background on Abdallah Bin Bayyah, go here

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