2014 Reviving The Islamic Spirit Convention; Has Anything Changed?


Various media have reported on this year’s Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention (RIS), held annually in Toronto since 2003 and generally described as one of North America’s largest Islamic conventions. According to a Turkish news portal report:

DreamShotDecember 27, 2014 The North American continents second largest Islamic organisation RIS (Reviving the Islamic Spirit) Convention 2014 has brought together thousands of Muslims from around the globe, which has begun at the Toronto Metrol Convention Centre in Toronto Canada and will end on the 28th December.

With thousands of people congregating at the centre, it is also playing host to many Muslim foundations, associations and companies from different Muslim cultures. From Mauritania there is Abdullah bin Bayyah, from USA Huseyin Nasr, Malcolm X’s daughter Shabazz, Muhammed Ninowy, Munir El-Kasim, Hamza Yusuf and Zahir Mahmoud from the UK, as well as well known artists, including Sami Yusuf who will give a concert on the last day.

The Metro Convention Centers hall caters for the visitors from the early hours in the morning until the late hours, with conventions throughout the day. To make it easy for the visitors, one level has been modified to provide child care. To meet the food needs, a kitchen has been provided giving different foods from every culture.

For the prayer needs, the masjid is available, and since the first day thousands came together to pray the Friday congregational prayer. There is also an open market in the exhibition space, selling books, decorations, and Islamic wedding organisers take their places in stands. RIS 2014 is also taking advantage of further visitors who are on holidays for Christmas.

Read the rest here.

Past RIS conventions have included an array of top Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as global figure Tariq Ramadan, Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Suwaidan, and North American Muslim Brotherhood leader Jamal Badawi. All three were conspicuously absent this year but two other notable individuals were featured as they have been in the past, both with a reputation in some quarters for “moderation.”

Abdallah Bin Bayyah, last known to be living in Saudi Arabia, is a well known global Muslim Brotherhood figure originally from Mauritania. In June 2013, we reported Sheikh Bin Bayyah had visited the US White House where he met with senior White House officials and representatives of other government agencies including an aide to President Obama and US OIC Envoy Rashad Hussain. We also reported at that time on his role at the Islamic Fiqh Council and the  European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), both theological bodies characterized by virulent antisemitism, as well as other aspects of antisemitism surrounding Sheikh Bin Bayyah. In September 2013, the GMBDW reported that Sheikh Bin Bayyah had resigned from the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and where he once served as Vice-President. However, Sheikh Bin Bayyah remains a member of the ECFR, also headed by Qaradawi.

Former Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric has had a long and extensive history of ties to Islamists since the time of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War including a long association with Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who heads the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) where Dr. Ceric is still a memberQuestions have also been raised concerning what have been described as Dr. Ceric’s “shady business dealings” and his efforts to placate extremists and silence their moderate critics. Dr. Ceric also appears to be deeply unpopular in his home country where as the GMDW reported last year he received only 4% of the vote for the countries shared Presidency.

Also raising serious questions about any change in the RIS convention was the scheduled appearance of Hatem Bazian, a US professor who is the head of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is a Palestinian advocacy group with strong ties to both the US Muslim Brotherhood and to the Hamas support infrastructure in the US. Video from an April 2004 antiwar rally shows Dr. Bazian calling for an “Intifada” in the US. More video from the same convention show Bazian talking about the “Arabs who are coming to help” in Iraq. Dr. Bazian later claimed that his remarks on a US Intifada were misunderstood.

In December 2013, we discussed a report by the Point De Bascule blog which looked at the origins of the RIS and which Identified the Saudi World Assembly Of Muslim Youth (WAMY) as the original sponsor of the event. Given the presence of the individuals discussed above, the GMBDW does not see any fundamental change in the RIS and so judges the convention as continuing to reflect the ideology, not to mention the leadership, of the Global Muslim Brotherhood as it has each year since its inception.

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