Breitbart.com has published a useful summary of an unusual public conflict that has broken out between leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Tariq Ramadan, the son-in-law of the Brotherhood founder, and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. The article begins:
An interesting development in the world of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations: a long simmering disagreement has broken out into open discord, as Tariq Ramadan, son of Said Ramadan and grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna, formally announced that he was pulling out of attendance at the Islamic Society of North America annual convention in Detroit.
The high-profile Muslim Brotherhood leader was once banned from entry to the U.S. after allegedly providing funds to a charity known to support Hamas. That ban was lifted in 2010 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Since that time, Ramadan has been a frequent guest speaker at a number of events put on by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations.
The Islamic Society of North America is a longtime organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. It is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, where the federal government produced documents leading federal judge Jorge Solis to state the government had produced ‘ample evidence’ to show ISNA’s ties to other Brotherhood fronts. These fronts included CAIR, NAIT, the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association of Palestine and, most importantly, Hamas. ISNA was formed out of the Muslim Brotherhood’s first organization, the Muslim Student’s Association, and has been historically considered the ‘nucleus of the Islamic Movement’ in North America, and an ‘apparatus’ of the Brotherhood.”
Read the rest here.
The GMBDW finds that the articles’s analysis of the conflict ignores the most important question raised by the incident which is why Ramadan took the conflict public at this time. In all our many years of covering the Global Muslim Brotherhood, we cannot remember a single instance of this sort of public conflict between leading elements of the global movement. Additionally, in his letter Ramadan also picks a fight with the organizers of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference (RIS), an annual event held in Canada that has been featuring mainly ISNA leaders and last year notably Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Mauritanian scholar who recently broke with Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi to join a council of scholars established by the UAE. In the letter Ramadan said of the RIS:
…..some of the participants, scholars or preachers, under the guise of Sufism or in the name of avoiding partisan politics, defend highly politicized positions of support for states and dictatorships.
So why then has Ramadan taken this opportunity to take the unparalleled step of going public with his accusations against the North American Muslim Brotherhood? Ramadan has always appeared to be a deeply ambitious individual who, despite his record of shoddy “scholarship’, has capitalized on his position as the son-in-law of the Brotherhood founder to position himself as an independent leader in the Global Muslim Brotherhood. Given the tremendous stress suffered by the Brotherhood of late, losing its grip on Egypt and suffering at least a partial cutoff of its funding from Gulf sources, we judge that Ramadan is availing himself of this opportunity to position himself as a replacement for the long-ailing Youssef Qaradawi, the putative leader of the global movement. What better way to stake out such a position than declaring himself as the global conscience of the worldwide Muslim community. As he writes:
It is impossible for me to attend such events when my presence alone would imply support for positions that stand in total contradiction to my vision of the role of Western Muslims in their society, now and in the future. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. It is imperative that we educate ourselves, and that we display good judgement and fortitude. If those around us are silent in the face of the unacceptable, the conscience of Muslims must not remain silent, neither in the name of wisdom betrayed, nor of Sufism perverted.
The Breitbart article also tells us without supporting evidence or argument:
It is highly unlikely that this public squabble represents anything more than a temporary disagreement. It certainly shouldn’t be considered anything approximating a break between ISNA and other Brotherhood groups.
We disagree on both counts. It is not plausible that a disagreement so trivial as to be temporary would move a figure such as Ramadan to take this step to it seems to us more likely that is this a serious rift between Ramadan and the North American movement but we need to see how this plays out over the coming years. As for a break with the rest of the Brotherhood, the GMBDW has analyzed recent developments with respect to ISNA and concluded that we remain deeply skeptical about any true change in the nature of the organization. We will watch this conflict for any signs that just skepticism is either justified or ill-conceived.
For a profile of Tariq Ramadan, go here.
Fora profile of ISNA, go here.